Attention is in short supply. That’s the down side of the information age. There’s just so much to focus on and the demand on our time is crazy. Now, all you need to be busy is a smart phone. Also, we’re constantly interrupted; distraction is a battle.
Sadly, more time isn’t added as we get busier. We’re still constrained by twenty-four hours. Consequently, good time management is a skill essential to our sanity. It’s simply not practical to satisfy all the demands on our time.
Just like you, I face this battle daily. So I’ve researched, tried different time management tools and discovered one that’s particularly effective for me – it’s my favorite. Perhaps, it would work for you. It’s a small negative word.
Negative Word, Positive Effect
The word is: NO. It’s a life saver. Those who have mastered its usage are able to conserve some energy. Over time, I’ve consciously strengthened my ‘no’ muscles. I say it politely, but the message is always clear.
I fell in love with this word because I realized that it’s one of the most practical ways to manage your time. I’m not a sadist and derive no pleasure in declining requests; however, a few of those requests are truly important.
Effectiveness is the sliver of positivity to this little negative word. It’s difficult to say yes to every request and stay sharp. You’re not designed for every opportunity and you can’t solve all of humanity’s challenges. Though, culture, loved ones and other factors make us feel like our attention is needed everywhere. It’s not. NO may not be the easiest tool to use, but it will shield you from the ‘attack’ on your time.
Train Others to Respect Your Time
People treat your time the way you train them – that’s how it works. If you have a flexible relationship with time (you’re comfortable with lateness or disregard the clock), those around you will relate to you accordingly. It’s your time and we need to know how we should interact with your time – and the only person who can give us that information is you.
You don’t have to go around hurling “no” at people. But the word can be applied as a lifestyle or a functional time management system. A person’s attitude towards time can become the standard by which they interact with others. For instance, you probably have a friend who keeps to time and in order to maintain your relationship, you’ve had to adjust your time attitude. You’ve been trained by your friend.
What’s your time reputation? If you can build a good one, you’ll naturally say no to many distractions because your focus will be clear to all and more often than not, people align.
Learn to Quit
In his eBook, Shave 10 Hours Off Your Workweek, the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael Hyatt, said “We need to cultivate the habit of non-finishing. Not every project you start is worth finishing. Sometimes we get into it and realize, “This is a waste of time.” So give yourself permission to quit.” This is so refreshing; it’s one of the best time management tips I’ve heard.
I’m not telling you to be a quitter. But some things are just learning curves and you’ll realize at some point that letting go is best for you because the lesson is done. You don’t have to be trapped by the thinking that you must finish everything. You can say “no” midway – and as you get skilled at using this small beautiful word, you’ll get better at knowing what to finish and what to quit.
Happy New Year🎉