Daniel Pink has done a great entry on saying no and what are some of the issues around it. His post isn’t just about how to say no, but how to say no to things you might actually want to do.
The problem I often see is that we have to do lists that are much larger than we ever have a chance of being successful at implementing. Some of the items are things our boss makes us do, but more often the items are things on the list that we are attracted to or things we actually do want to do.
At some point we have to start being more selective about what goes on that list. For me, it’s having a folder of things I might want to do someday. Those someday things aren’t important, but they are interesting. If the someday things sit on the list too long (typically over 2 years) then it’s time for me to delete them from the someday folder.
The real issue is having a clear mission statement. I continue to advocate for developing both a personal and business mission statement. This way you can decide whether your new idea for something you want to fit in is congruent with your mission.
If the idea is not consistent with your mission there are two things you can do about it. The first would be nothing. Just let the idea go and move on with life. The second is what I often do and that’s put the idea into my someday folder. Not many things ever move out of my someday folder, but at least the idea doesn’t keep gnawing at me.
There’s something about writing down an idea. Once you write down the idea of something to do you’ll find that you stop thinking about it. It’s there, you can find it, and you don’t have to spend brain power trying to remember what it is you’re interesting in doing or even thinking about doing.
If you write down things that aren’t going into your must do list, you put them in your someday folder. You get to review them and find out if they’re important, but not urgent. It’s the important but not urgent activities that allow us to move forward in doing things that are important to us and things that fit into our mission in life.
What have you done about thinking about making space for the important and not urgent things in your life? Do you have a way of saying no to the things that you really are interested in doing, but they just don’t fit in?