The day light is getting shorter. Similar, at work, with all those projects you wanted to complete before the Christmas break, you feel like your work day does not have enough hours for all of this. And instead of focusing on writing of that thesis or book chapter you have just agreed to help your colleague with his project. So now you have even less time to work on your own goal…
It is as if you sit at your desk or in the lab with a full cup and pour even more water into it. What happens next is that the water flows over the edges of the cup and down on the table. To pour anymore water into the “cup of your life” you must first empty it. You can do it by saying NO to some of the things that take up your precious attention and distract you from your goal.
Recently, I have completed a big project of writing and publishing a scientific review. Then I have paused and thought about what I want to do next. I got clear about my priorities. I realised that to create the time and space for my goals I needed to say No to some people requesting my time for their projects. I have thought my decision through and said “No” to one of the senior colleagues in our department to his requests of my time and expertise. And even though I have already spent some time working on his project I felt that leaving this project will create time for my own goals. After that I experienced that the newly created
space and time have started to fill with the results from my own project that I most wanted!
Once we become clear on our priorities (such as to write that thesis or book chapter) we need to decide to say No to other distractions. These three things can help us to say No:
* If it is not an absolute “Yes” it is a “No”.
* When you say “No” to others, you say “Yes” to yourself.
* You can say No without explaining as long as you are clear with yourself about this decision.
There will always be people who won’t like it and not approve it when you say No to them. This will be a little uncomfortable for you at first. But after a little practice eventually the scale will tip. You will feel good about the space and time you have created, and this will be more important than receiving the approval of others.
If you are used to saying No to any request then it will be difficult to start saying No. These examples of possible replies to the demands of your attention and time might help you with starting to say No:
Some things have come up that need my attention
I need to focus on the writing of thesis/book chapter right now
I have another commitment
I have no experience with that
I do not have any more room in my calendar
I am not taking on any new responsibilities
I am in the middle of several projects
OK, you have become clear on your priorities and you are almost ready to start saying No to the new demands of your time at work. Now just give yourself a permission to say No when it feels right to you.
Next time a colleague wants more of your time than you have – say No to them. Remember that you wanted to complete that thesis or book chapter by the end if this year. Honour your intention.