Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My biggest challenge--Saying No

My summer classes ended on Thursday and I am so excited to have two weeks off from school because I am exhausted. I don't work for the Foundation any more, however I have managed to completely fill my schedule to the brim and I am still struggling to find free time as well as time to exercise in my schedule. This is so ironic because my job is only 20 hours a week!! However, I am a member of so many committees and exciting initiatives and I simply said yes to too many things this summer.

Do you have this problem, do you say yes all the time?

My friend and fellow blogger Lindsey sent me a great article about time management titled Reclaim Your Time: 20 Great ways to Find More Free Time.

There were several items out of the 20 that resonated with me:
  1. Schedule the time. As you sit down and think about your life and what you want to do, versus what you actually do, you will be looking at ways to free up time. It’s crucial that you take a blank weekly schedule (you can just write it out on a piece of paper, or use your calendar) and assign blocks for the things you love — the stuff on your essentials list. If you want to exercise, for example, when will you do it? Put the blocks of time on your schedule, and make these blocks the most important appointments of your week. Schedule the rest of your life around these blocks.--
I am doing what I love to do yet I'm still not making time for things I love the most. I am so busy when my husband is flying four days a week that when he comes home I am still busy that it is hard for me to stop and spend time with him. Furthermore, I love to scrapbook and read and yet I have very little time to do these things either. I am now going to put chunks of time into my schedule, for my husband, for my scrapbooking and for my reading.
  1. Keep your list to 3. When you make out your daily to-do list, just list the three Most Important Tasks you want to accomplish today. Don’t make a laundry list of tasks, or you’ll fill up all your free time. By keeping your task list small, but populated only by important tasks, you ensure that you are getting the important stuff done but not overloading yourself.
Ok this one is hard. My list usually has 30 items on it not three. I started doing this yesterday and we'll see how it goes. I definitely try to accomplish more than I ever can in a day and that has to stop. I do get a lot done in a day, but I want to be comfortable and say I can't do it all and it is ok to let something go.
  1. Lunch breaks. If the three golden times mentioned above don’t work for you, lunch breaks are another good opportunity to schedule things. Some people like to exercise, or to take quiet times, during their lunch breaks. Others use this time to work on an important personal goal or project.
I am super bad about this. I eat lunch at my desk. I got into this habit a long time ago and I need to stop. We have an awesome break room too.
  1. Learn to say no. If you say “yes” to every request, you will never have any free time. Get super protective about your time, and say “no” to everything but the essential requests.
Ok so saying no is the hardest one for me. I am a people pleaser. I must not feel guilty for saying no.

So, now you know my crazy habits, they are now out on the table and I am hoping that by writing these on my blog I will be more accountable and now make more time for the things I love and care about.

What about you? How are you at saying no? Do you have any helpful tips for those of us who don't say no?


Maria Gajewski said...

This is such a common affliction! Especially for people that are involved in community. I completely agree that you have to make appointments for the fun stuff in your life as well as the work/volunteer stuff.

If you sat down and looked at a one-month calendar with all of your obligated time blocked off (including travel, prep time, etc.) you could see pretty easily how little free time you actually have. Doing this can make it a lot easier to say "no" in the future.

Leigh said...

I have trouble saying no, too. There is so much I want to do. And I have finally reached the point where I am invited to do these things, rather than hunting them down. But as I was reading some materials to psych myself up for my dissertation, I read about "saying later." (Wish I could give full credit, but can't remember exactly where I saw it.) It was saying that if you have problems saying "no" to say "later" instead. It shows that you are interested in this opportunity, but the timing is just not right. I have been doing some of that, and even suggesting to people when they should contact me about participating in the project; such as, "My schedule won't permit me to be as involved as I would like right now, but give me a call in December and I might be in a better place." It works some - at least until everyone calls in December.