My family and close friends know about my addiction. My calendar addiction. I was “caught in the act” at 4:00 a.m. this past Sunday morning, when I woke from a restless sleep to complete a time-sensitive volunteer commitment. Instead of slumbering peacefully on a Sunday morning, I was awake and tap-tap-tapping at my keyboard.
I am a veteran planner. I plan so well that I know where I’ll be on Thursday night nine months from today. 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 STC friend Jamie Gillenwater recently posted an intriguing and inspiring thought:
My goal for 2013 is to learn when to say “No.” I might need to create a list of questions for myself before I make commitments.
Jamie’s list is different than mine, but the questions we should all ask ourselves before we make a commitment might go something like this:
- Will this commitment benefit me and my family emotionally, not financially?
- 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 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?
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?