Do you have a hard time saying no? I do. I want so badly to do every thing and please everyone. It is not healthy or good for me, yet I do it anyway. Almost every time I end up immediately regretting my extra yeses, and never know how to gracefully reduce commitments without disappointing someone.
I will move mountains to make everything work. However, I short change my sleep, eating, recreation time, and even my sanity! That in turn means that while everyone is getting “the best of me” my family is stuck with “the rest of me”. It is kind of like giving the filet mignon at the office while my family gets the cold noodles.
If I do this too often, then eventually my best becomes not so great; more like a cube steak and by then my family is barely getting scraps. I end up utterly exhausted, completely overwhelmed at this Jenga puzzle called life about to crash down on my head. Worst of all, I end up underdelivering to the people I overcommitted to in the first place! Are you shaking your head right now because you relate?
Here are two solutions to get off the train of overcommitment and back on track. However, sometimes even I need to remind myself of these, which is why I am writing this post this week.
1.No is a complete sentence! No, I cannot do that. No, I will not do that. This is my favorite, “I would love to help you with that, however right now I cannot take on another project.” The bottom line is everyone is quick to ask for our help and time, but it is up to us to give it wisely. When we say yes to keep peace or because we think no one else can or will do something, we are not being true to ourselves. We are better to say no, and save our yes for the really important stuff that we value. Which in turn helps us keep our sanity too. So next time someone asks you to bake cookies for the office or school party try this “I wish I could, but I cannot this time. Would you like me to grab something from the store when I go?”
2.Time blocking. I am balancing quite an interesting load with work, my coaching business, and going back to school while having two teenagers and a husband too. So I use a time blocking system that is highly effective for me and recommend it often to my clients.
I take a simple week at a glance calendar, cover the actual dates, and leave only the days of the week showing. Then I block the am, afternoon, and evening into squares. I put in the times that have known commitments, like getting ready for school and work or afternoon carline. For me, I have a standing Tuesday evening appointment every week from 4:30 – 9 I block off as well. By filling those in first, I can clearly see where work, school, family time, and other commitments can fit.
Next, I write my family blocks on Wednesday night and weekends. Also, I block off every Monday night from 8-10 for special time with my daughter. Sadly, she leaves for college next year and that time is every bit as important to me as my job. All this time is marked in the color pink (which I love) so visually it works for me.
Now, I give myself a big block of time each day for my online teaching, work, and my actual homework in black ink. Let’s face it the bills have to be paid and I cannot graduate without doing my homework so this is crucial to survival right now. Likewise, I schedule a small block every morning to do essential household chores. Then in blue, I block out time everyday to work with my coaching clients or my business and blog. Lastly, I try to block off at least two flex blocks of one to two hours for things like appointments or errands that must done each week in green. I can easily accomplish those tasks without derailing my entire schedule because I already accounted for them before I even knew what they were. If I do not have anything for my flex time, then great – me time! It’s flexible but not time I schedule new commitments.
Doing these guided blocks visually lets me see where I have time that I could take on more commitments comfortably. Sometimes it is more like Yikes! I cannot take on any more projects or clients until something in those blocks is complete. To do so would be unfair, I would end up overcommitting and underdelivering in my products, services, or results.
This is my overview for helping me balance my commitments each month or quarter. I use my daily calendar and to do list to really iron out what to do in each of those blocks specifically so I complete projects and reach my goals on time and without being overwhelmed.
The truth is we like to think we can do everything, but we cannot if we want to do things well. Something we promise will suffer in quality and we will suffer the negative side effects. So this week, sit down and look honestly at your commitments. Use this time blocking system, and see if your time is allotted to things that are essential or bring you joy. Does it show you are overcommitted? If so I encourage you to drop any commitments you can, like that baking cookies thing, and practice saying no. You do not need to apologize for being the master of your time. Trust me, others will thank you for giving them the best of you, not the rest of you.