Saying 'No' Can Be A Positive Says Radio Presenter Charlie Hedges

The in-demand DJ discusses how to manage a busy life
Charlie Hedges
Charlie Hedges

DJ and Radio 1 presenter Charlie Hedges admits she’s a workaholic. “I’ve always worked hard and I find it hard not to work,” she says. “I love to work, I really do.”

But even Charlie, 33, has discovered the benefits of switching off from work – whether DJing at house events or hosting her Radio 1 show - and from other people’s demands by checking in with herself, friends and family.

“My family are everything to me, no exaggeration. I’m so grateful to them for growing up in a home where we always listened to music. They’re always there for me. When you just need five minutes to come away from work, it’s so important to be able to talk about other stuff. I like listening to people, finding out what people have been doing – my brother, my nan, my mum and dad. It’s all about prioritising time with the right people and having conversations outside of work.”

She also tries to get outside and exercise at least once a week. “I usually go for a run after I’ve made a mix, so I can listen to it while I’m running,” she says. “I’m not obsessed, but just once a week does make me feel better and more energetic.”

In HuffPost UK’s new Sorry, Not Sorry podcast series made in partnership with Galaxy®, house DJ Charlie says learning to say no is a relatively new concept to her – as is the discovery that her career won’t take a nosedive for using that all-important two-letter word occasionally.

“The most important thing is that even though you may think saying ‘no’ is a bad thing, actually what can be worse (and it’s taken me a long time to realise this) is saying ‘yes’ to something, not being 100% and actually probably being pretty useless,” she says. “Even though the word ‘no’ seems like a negative, it’s not – it can be a positive too.”

Shockingly, women have one hour less per day, on average, than men to dedicate to themselves and what makes them happy. But taking time for self-care shouldn’t be relegated to a ‘guilty pleasure’. Research by Galaxy® has shown that women who take time for themselves feel happier and more fulfilled. That’s why it’s so important we practise saying ‘no’ politely but without apology.

In the Sorry, Not Sorry podcast series, radio presenter, author and columnist Gemma Cairney talks frankly to successful, relatable and inspirational women like Charlie about making a conscious decision to put themselves first sometimes and say no to demands from others.

Like many women, Charlie’s had to learn to say no. “I never like to disappoint people. I never like to let anyone down. But just saying ‘no’, even if it’s just once a month, honestly does make a big difference to the way I can manage my time.

“You can always say ‘no’, but you can always follow it up with ‘I can’t do today, but can you do next week?’. If it is that important, then you have to do it. But the stuff that can be shifted to the week after, that’s the stuff you have to manage.”

Charlie also believes in diarising every part of her life, private and professional.

“I’ll get ultra paranoid if I feel like I’ve forgotten to do something. I think that’s the same as a lot of people; we’re all very busy and we don’t take much time out. So, having something written down in black and white in an actual diary, that I can highlight as I go through my day, gives me a sense of achievement. But it also means at the end of the day I can switch off and know I’ve done everything I wanted to do. Having a diary, rather than just using my phone, works better for me because it underlines that there are seven days in the week so I can plan ahead.”

She is also keen to point out that there is never anything wrong with asking for help and that women don’t have to carry the burden of work and home singlehandedly.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’re doing, whether you’re working or not, you should always ask for help – and never feel ashamed asking. We all need help. If you say you don’t, it’s a lie, you’re lying to yourself. You don’t need to feel embarrassed by it. I spent years thinking I’ll do it all myself, and the truth is I can’t – and I’ve never been able to.”