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communication, motivation

Saying NO to have more YES time

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?

About Barrie Byron

Innovative information developer specializing in presenting complex ideas in ways that are clear and concise. Persistent optimist, intrepid adventurer, mentor. Builder of relationships, connecting friends and peers to people they want to know. Social duct tape and generator of goodwill. Follow me on twitter @barriebyron


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