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How many of us insist on consistently piling on new projects and tasks when we haven’t closed out any of our other projects? Or how about the many times you’ve put something you were doing to run around for someone else in an effort to help them, only to discover it was not as important to them as you made it!

“I prefer being busy, I am a team player. I have to make sure its done right. I can’t say “no”. They’ll get mad/won’t like me. I need to make sure its right. It will make him/her happy, My mother cooked every day for us. I want to make sure my child is well rounded. If I don’t do it no one will.” These are all reasons I’ve heard for why people “don’t have time”. The problem is they’re also tired, frustrated and secretly (or sometimes not so secretly) RESENTFUL! 

We have the power  to cull the unnecessary workload that we love complaining about, but we constantly give others the power over how we spend our time. We could do more that was relevant to us (and necessary for us) if we set aside the low result- low priority, resource-sucking tasks that bog us down. But we don’t – and we don’t delegate because we want to say, “I did it all on my own”. Instead we play martyrs and put our own needs aside. We don’t realize that It rarely gets us the attention or recognition we expect either. And then we call folks UNGRATEFUL!

There is a way out of this unrewarding vortex. First, instead of saying yes right away, stop yourself. Instead, ask the person how soon they need a response. It buys you time and makes the person think of more realistic expectations. If they can’t give you the time you need, they will find someone else. They always do. Second, if they need something done sooner than you can avail yourself, let them know that you would like to do it right and that would need more time that they have given.Next, delegate. Stop insisting it be done the way you want it done and focus on the results. Give someone else the opportunity to learn something new – even if they make mistakes. (These are especially helpful at work).

Lastly, create a Stop Doing List.. 

Radical right?  List all of the things that you do regularly. identify the ones you wish you could erase. Then figure out alternate strategies. If it absolutely must be done, can you enlist someone else to help? The kids? Your partner? The person that started the issue? Pay someone. Identify which are ego-based. These are the things that no longer align with where you are in your life and the ones that you do because you don’t want others to think ill of you. Gut it up. If it’s not something that you’re particularly passionate about, bow out gracefully. There will always be things that we do that we don’t care to be involved in. When you make more of those those things the priority instead of the things that motivate you, regrets and anger will fill the rooms in your internal house.

It’s time to own your time. You will never get to do the things on your Bucket List if you continue to add other people’s items to your To Do List..

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3 thoughts on “Owning Your Time

  1. Guilty…Guilty…Guilty…I am slowly learning to say no to things that I cannot fit onto my already overcrowded plate. It is one of the hardest thing I had to learn,.. saying no to my friends who had become so dependent on me to ALWAYS say yes! Once I started saying no to the things I truly couldn’t help others with, I realized the world didn’t stop evolving and most of my “real friends” understood when I said no. Most importantly, saying no allowed me to do the things that I WANTED to do for me!!! If feels great to own my time..Great blog topic Gillian…Love the clip…LOL.

    • I had the disease to please before too Diane. It felt good to be needed, until it didn’t feel so good feeling used. You’re right. The true friends understood, the others started talking bad about me – how I changed. How I went big time and thought I was all that. In the end, I did what was healthy for me and those family obligations I couldn’t shirk responsibility for. Sounds like you’ve created your own good space and enjoying your newfound time for you! Good for you!

  2. This is so great! I learned too a long time ago the magic of “no”. Working full time, raising two children, having a successful marriage and parents in the area, my time is well taken up. These are the priorities in my life and that’s it. I don’t volunteer outside of work, serve on time consuming evening committees/groups nor do I feel pressure to do those things. If I’m going to remain sane and helpful to those I love (including myself). I needed to master the word “no” and as I have gotten older, I am proud to say that I have. Great post Gil!

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