Protecting time

William Liao
1 min readSep 24, 2023

The ability to say “no” is just as much a skill that requires patience and practice as any other capability we endeavor to obtain in order to be more productive and happier people.

Three observations that help with honing this skill:

  1. Saying “no” is about opportunity cost: you are trading a chance to do one thing in order to focus on something else. Making this choice can feel inconvenient.
  2. Saying “no” does not imply or equate to you being a bad person. It can sometimes be a kind thing to offer your time, but you also do not have unlimited time to give.
  3. The more you understand what is most important to you now, the easier it is to say “no” to things out of scope.

Unless there’s an agreement in place, it’s hard to say that you owe anyone your time or that you are owed someone else’s time.

It is on the basis of this understanding that we can begin to treat our time and the time of others — our most precious asset — with the respect that it deserves.



William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (