Use the Magic Word

"The more you say yes, the more you'll have stress." 
Eric M. Twiggs

Have you ever been so actively involved in everything that you didn't accomplish anything? I had a young lady named Lisa approach me wanting my advice on how to better manage her time. She admitted that she was feeling stressed out, and that there were not enough hours in the day to get things done. I offered to schedule a meeting with her for Thursday of that week to discuss the matter. Here is how the rest of our dialog went:

"Eric, Thursdays no good for me, I am the President of my Home owners association and we have a meeting. Ok Lisa, What about next Tuesday evening at 6:30pm? No Eric, that will not work either, I am the vice president of the PTA and we have a meeting scheduled. No problem Lisa, lets schedule for the following Saturday at 3:00pm. No Eric, that time is not good because I am chairing a special committee at work and we are planning a summer social."

Lisa was so overbooked, that she did not have time to address her time management issue! How did she get into this predicament? 

Lisa failed to use the magic word. If you fail to use this powerful word, you will be in the same situation. The magic word is NO. I suggest that you anticipate the requests that may come your way and create a "NO list" to record those offers that you know in advance to decline. Noted author Gary Ryan Blair is quoted as saying "Your success in life depends on having a short yes list and a LONG NO list." The question becomes, how do you know what requests belong on the list? Below are two areas to consider when compiling your NO list:

If you do not have a passion for the request, that is a sign that It belongs on your NO list. You will be more productive by focusing your efforts in a few areas that line up with your passions, then by focusing on many areas out of obligation. Everyone has a specific calling and purpose in life. When I am involved in activities that are tied to purpose, I am more productive because passion and purpose are linked. This passion allows me to apply the energy that is needed to produce an excellent result. If you do not have a passion for the activity, you will just go through the motions. The following "snooze button test" will help you to measure your levels of passion: In the morning, if you hit the snooze button two or more times, this is a sign that you have committed yourself to activities that you are not passionate about. If you really love what you are doing, you can't wait to get your day started. Remember this formula: Passion + Purpose = Productivity. 

Any request that does not line up with your short or long term priorities belongs on your NO list. Ask yourself the following three questions to help clarify your priorities: First, what do you want the obituary that will be written about your life to say? Answering this question will help you to gain clarity on your vision. Secondly, what are your goals for the next ninety days that will move you in the direction of your vision? Lastly, what do you need to do each day to accomplish your ninety day goals? Having your vision and goals in writing makes it easier to say NO to requests that don't line up. Any request that takes you away from your priorities is a distraction. Every time you say NO to a distraction, you are saying YES to your destiny.

In summary, considering your passions and priorities will help you to proactively create your NO list.