In last week’s post entitled “The Best New Year’s Resolutions to Boost Your Career,” I gave you seven resolutions to try this new year. One of those resolutions was to do less so you can have more time to focus on your personal and professional goals.
This may sound impossible, especially given your current work schedule and all the other resolutions you’ve made for yourself this year.
But there are several things you can do less of to carve out more time for your goals and passions.
Say yes less and learn how to say no more
It can be hard to say no, especially for people-pleasers. Anytime you’re faced with a task, activity, or event, ask yourself the following questions before immediately responding with “yes.”
- Will I enjoy it?
- Does it earn income?
- Will it open up more quality time with my family?
- Is it something leading me one step closer toward a goal of mine, like starting my own business?
- Does it support my personal mission statement?
If you can’t answer yes to at least three of the above questions, say no or delay giving a commitment if you need to think about it some more. Perhaps you can say yes, but need to set some clear parameters or boundaries. For instance, you may agree to help with the task but for only a certain amount of time.
Most importantly, make sure you measure the opportunity against your personal mission statement to see if it supports it or distracts from it. If you don’t have a personal mission statement, check out my post “How to Make Your Big Decisions More Simple” to help you create one.
If you realize it’s best to say no to the request, do so politely. Simply say, “I appreciate you thinking of me, but unfortunately it’s not something I can commit to at this time.” You don’t have to give any further explanation.
If the person doesn’t respect your response and keeps pushing the issue, keep repeating the above statement without changing it or adding anything to it. He or she will eventually accept your response or move on.
Outsource what you can
If the task or activity is an obligation, determine if it can be delegated our outsourced. While you may not like the idea of paying to outsource the task, the time saved from hiring someone can open up more time for you to do work you find more enjoyable and more profitable.
For instance, housework is a necessary evil and it has to get done. Some weeks I have more clients and more billable hours than I have time to spend doing my housework. But if I can make more money in an hour or two doing a job I love than I’d spend on a visit from a housekeeper, it makes more financial sense to pay the housekeeper so I can have the time to make more money and grow my business. Plus, not having to spend the extra time cleaning frees me up to spend time with friends or family.
When considering what can be delegated or outsourced, choose to delegate or outsource the tasks you enjoy least or make you the least money yet require the most time.
Work within your skill set
Make sure you’re spending your time working within your skill set. Don’t expend time or energy trying to get better at the things you’re not good at. Instead, let those be the things you delegate or outsource.
When I do presentations on the topic of personal branding, I often ask the audience why it’s important to know your weaknesses. The usually say it’s so you can know what skills you need to learn or improve. But this is not the correct answer. Instead, it’s so you can know what to say no to.
Do the things you do best and forget the rest. Stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole or you’ll just get frustrated and waste your time. You were created with certain gifts. You’re a good steward of those gifts when you’re using them instead of trying to take on someone else’s gifts.
Be selective in who you work with
You don’t always get to choose your boss or co-workers, but on the occasions you do, only work with those who are receptive to what you’re doing.
This is especially important if you’re starting your own business. If a potential client or partner doesn’t get your vision or mission, don’t waste your time trying to sell them on it. Save this time and energy for those who do get it.
This is why I’m selective in who I take on as clients. The ones who see the importance of career coaching and understand their return on investment make my work so much more enjoyable and less stressful.
If you do have to work with someone difficult, keep any necessary interactions with the person as short and limited as possible. During those interactions stick to facts. Don’t express your emotions to someone who can’t be trusted with them. Also, establish boundaries and repeat them if necessary. And above all else, remain professional.
If you’re spending more time and money having to maintain your material possessions, it’s probably time to downsize.
Get rid of the stuff that costs you more to maintain than it provides you convenience. Better yet, sell those items and use the money as seed money to start your own business or side hustle.
I promise, you won’t miss those things tying you down.
Say no to time-suckage activities
While you’re at it, also eliminate any unproductive activities sucking up all your time. This includes scrolling through social media, binge watching Netflix, talking on the phone with people who only want to gossip instead of talking about more meaningful things.
At the very least, reduce the amount of time you do these things by 30%.
With all the free time you gain back, use it to learn a new skill, read a book, or write a business plan for your own company you hope to start.
Screen your calls
I have a personal rule. If I don’t recognize the number calling me, I don’t answer it.
I’m surprised how many people don’t do this. Especially given the number of robo-calls people get these days. If it’s important, the person calling will leave a message.
Manage your time better
Sometimes finding more time for your passions simply requires you to revisit some tried and true time management practices. This includes setting deadlines for the obligations you can’t delegate or outsource. Put those things on your calendar.
Speaking of calendars, once you’ve incorporated some of the above suggestions in your life, look to see how much time has been freed up on your calendar. Write in the productive things you now want to use this time for in pursuing your passions.
In addition, if you like to make a to-do list for everything, consider writing a to-don’t list too. This can also help you manage your time better.
Get over your FOMO and say no
Some of the above suggestions may make you feel like you’re missing out on some things. But consider what you’re really missing out on if you say no. It will be the things that have no real pay-off in your life.
Sometimes the joy of missing out (JOMO) can free you up for the things you should say yes to and should never miss out on.