My family and close friends know about my addiction. My calendar addiction. Way back in 2013, I was “caught in the act” at 4:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, when I woke from a restless sleep to complete a time-sensitive volunteer leadership commitment. Instead of slumbering peacefully on a Sunday morning, I was awake and tap-tap-tapping at my keyboard.
I am a veteran planner. At one time in my life, I planned so well that I knew where I’ll be on Thursday night nine months in the future (Princeton Toastmasters meeting). I protect time and dates on my calendar for travel, fun, volunteer events, volunteer leadership commitments, Toastmasters, STC, social events, family time, and yes, I even have to plan my downtime.
With home offices and family in two states, I am a frequent flyer with a serious case of overcommitment. I started thinking about cutting back on my time commitments when I read Chris Guillebeau’s A Challenging Question blog post. Chris also inspires Scott H Young, who blogs about Ruthless Focus and the Art of Saying No. Scott writes “The easiest way to maintain a ruthless focus is to say no to major commitments other people ask of you that aren’t in line with your goals.” (He’s a Toastmaster, too.)
My lifelong goal is to continue learning how and when to say “No.” I created a list of questions I ask myself before I make commitments.
My friend Jamie first published her list in 2013, and I’ve changed mine a few times since then. Your list will be different than mine. Several of the questions we can all ask ourselves before we make a commitment might go something like this:
- Will this commitment benefit me and my family emotionally and personally?
- Am I passionate about this commitment?
- Do I have time for this commitment?
- What could I give up to make time?
- Does this commitment put me at risk to compromise my integrity?
- Do I admire and respect the person, people, or group that is asking for my time and attention?
- What are the long-term and short-term benefits?
- Do I feel joy about this commitment?
- Who will benefit from this commitment?
- What new skills will I learn while fulfilling the commitment?
- Will I have fun and spark joy?
You read it here first… I will be practicing the art of saying NO so that I can have room for more YES time with the people that I love and the causes that I am passionate about. I will still make plans — and decline them — with glee and enthusiasm. Lunch anyone?