Selectively Saying Yes

March 19, 2009 | By | Comments (0)

I am so glad to have the opportunity to write a book, but I completely underestimated the amount of time and energy it takes to work a full-time job and write a book. Since Halloween, I have pretty much had to abandon my social life and have become a master at turning down requests for my time.

Initially, I felt guilty about telling people "no." I worried what people would think and see my response as off-putting. Now that I’m just weeks away from my deadline, I don’t have the mental energy to worry about what other people think. Besides, if I don’t do my best on this book I’m going to let down a lot more people.

Until I turn over my manuscript to my editor, I only have four priorities:

  1. Go to work and do my job well,
  2. write a book that represents my very best,
  3. spend quality time with my husband and family, and
  4. take care of my physical self (exercise, eat well, and sleep at least 7 hours a night).

If something pops up that doesn’t fall into one of these four categories, then it has been indefinitely pushed to the back burner.

I have decided that once my manuscript is in my editor’s hands that I’m going to continue to keep a similar structure in place. I’ve found that it is really simple to decide what filters into my life and what doesn’t when my priorities are so clearly defined. I’ll expand my list, but I want to keep it to seven or eight items.

Formulating a list of priorities also shifts things to a more positive perspective. Instead of feeling like I’m saying "no," I feel like I’m being selective about saying "yes." It’s a reward when something makes it onto my schedule. I can look forward to everything I’ve committed to doing.

If you’re struggling with a schedule that is overflowing with responsibilities, consider creating a priorities list and using it as a filter to trim your to-do list. What matters most to you and how can you get rid of the extraneous commitments?

Have you tried managing your time with a priority-driven schedule? How do you decide what you say "yes" to and what requests are declined? Share your experiences in the comments.