I read an interesting post recently by blogger Jessica Lawlor (@jesslaw) “A Reverse To-Do List: Why What You Say NO to Matters More Than You Think.” It was one of those post titles that made me want to learn more, since I still struggle with protecting my time.
I have gotten much better about protecting my time. Last summer I mentioned that I had created a business manifesto and was measuring each opportunity against it…was the opportunity a true opportunity? Or was it a distraction from more important tasks?
I’ve done well since then. I’ve turned down a slew of things that I instinctively knew were going to either be time-sucks. And I’ve said no to things I felt would somehow cost me money: in terms of time or actual cash outlay. I’ve even been able to say no in person, which has always been hardest for me.
But the ‘nos’ have left me a bad taste in my mouth. Was I passing up something good? Limiting myself? Or was I conserving energy and focus?
That’s why I was glad to run across Jessica’s article. As she states in the piece:
I’m keeping a running list of all of the things I’ve said no to so far this year.
Jessica further explains:
The purpose for keeping this list or even sharing this list with you isn’t meant to say, “Look how great I am and look at all these cool opportunities I’ve said no to. No. Not at all.
Instead, the list is a constant reminder to myself that I always have a choice. WE always get to choose how we spend our time.
Because I’m usually not passing up something good. I’m passing up something that’s pulling me away from either tasks that have proven successful (writing cozy mysteries) or a different task that I chose to work on or enjoy.
Some of the things I’ve rejected in the past few months:
- Teaching a course
- Reviewing books (I’m not a reviewer)
- Blurbing/endorsing books (if I accepted every request, I’d be blurbing 4-5 books a month)
- Speaking on a panel at a Virginia book festival
- Beta testing software products/services for writers
- Nonfiction opportunity from a university press
And personal things, too. Requests for volunteering, for example. I’m a volunteer, but the problem is that the same people tend to be tapped over and over again (and you volunteers out there know what I mean).
I’ve also accepted some things. I’ve guest blogged, agreed to attend conferences, and just spoken at the Macon, GA Cherry Blossom festival. I’ve come to see that it’s possibly even more important is that we say yes to some things. Those would be things that give us an opportunity to grow, to stretch ourselves. Things that are actually opportunities that fit our business model/vision/philosophy/manifesto.
How do you feel about saying no? When you’ve said no, do you feel relieved or conflicted? How well do you protect your time?A reverse to-do list for busy writers. Click To Tweet
Image: Death to the Stock Photo