It is how you use your time that determines the degree of meaning or fulfillment you have and the money you make. Your time is both your life and your money. Your so-called time management system can be judged by the service it provides, the fulfillment it brings, and the economic rewards it produces.
But there is no such thing as true time management. You have the same exact amount of time as anyone else, 24 hours, in a day to work in. Getting more done is not about managing your time; it is about how you chose to focus your attention and intention during the time you have. When you focus on scheduling your day to do certain higher-priority actions, they are more likely to get done. In order to focus on your central bullseye of impacting long-term high priority actions, it is important to take command of your daily schedule. No one else is going to assure that you are living according to your true highest priorities.
“Your assertiveness, integrity (and at times tactful bluntness) will allow you to get your most important job done.” – Dr. Demartini
If you fill your day with high-priority actions that inspire you, your day won’t fill up with low-priority distractions that don’t.
Since you can have more than one kind of high-priority action, it is wise to define them accordingly by further prioritizing your high priorities. High priority items or actions can fall under one or more of the following categories:
- Those needing to be strategically planned (working on the business)
- Those needing to be done in relation to yourself
- Those needing to be done in relation to your employees
- Those needing to be done in relation to your clients, customers, patients…
- Those needing to be done that are creative (new divisions, services, products, markets…)
- Those needing to be delegated outside your company (outsourced)
- Those needing to be delegated inside your company (insourced)
In order to fill your day with your highest priorities, it is essential to master the art of saying no to anything less important. Pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Then practice responding to requests and offers with responses such as:
“Thank you, but no thank you – I do appreciate your request/offer though.”
“Thank you for the offer, but at this/that time, my schedule is full and will not allow for your request.”
“I appreciate your invitation, but at this/that time, I am not available.”
“No thank you, that will not work for me. I have other plans at this/that time.”
“No thank you, that does not exactly inspire or appeal to me.”
“Thank you for the opportunity, but I am going to pass at this time.”
“I would first love to check my calendar, schedule, and itinerary, and then determine what truly is of highest priority and then possibly get back to you later.”
“Thank you for the opportunity, but I love giving my all to my projects, and I have other very high -priority projects on my plate at present and so I could not give it my all.”
When you are unclear about what your true highest priority or business mission is, distractions can take you “off track,” and consume your time, attention, energy, focus, concentration, and productive capacity. All of this can become a tremendous distraction to you and prevent you from achieving what you truly would love.
Knowing what your highest-priority business objectives are prevents you from being as easily distracted by every so-called “opportunity” that comes along. It allows you to be more discerning about the activities you choose to take on board, and those you discard. Clarity of mission gives you the ability to ignore distractions, and that can be both incredibly inspiring and empowering.
It is wise to say “no” to your low-priority distractions and say “yes” to your highest-priority actions. You cannot please everyone so don’t waste your time trying. Continually saying “yes” because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying “no” will cost you greater opportunities and lead you to bite off more than you can chew. Your time is finite. If you don’t make your life about what you would love to say “yes” to, it will keep becoming filled with what you probably intended to say “no” to.
“People are effective because they say ‘no,’ because they say, ‘this isn’t for me.’” – Peter Drucker
Block out all less-important distractions. Give them up. Embrace your trade-off. If your answer to whether to do something is not a clearly a definitive “yes,” then it is wise to make it a “no”. Say no gracefully and you will receive greater long-term respect. Ask yourself, “Is this truly essential?” If not, say no.
“Warren Buffet keeps his schedule free of meetings. He’s great at saying no to things. He knows what he loves to do and what he does, he does unbelievably well. He likes to sit in his office and read and think.” – Carol J. Loomis
Try eliminating, or scaling back some of your activities to determine if reducing or eliminating them makes any real difference in your results. This also helps you determine which actions are truly the most productive priorities. Deliberately eliminate (or at least reduce) your trivial, unimportant, unnecessary, and irrelevant actions. Your intentional limits can help you become more limitless. Give yourself permission to say “no” to low priorities, distractions, and outer noise and stop trying to do it all. Stop saying “yes” to everyone and everything that surrounds you. Focus on and stick to what really matters, so you can really matter.
Sticking to your own higher priorities each day raises your self-worth, while others’ distractions can lower it. If you don’t fill your day with inspirations, it can fill up with desperations. Consider the benefits to yourself and others for telling them the truth and clear any burdening emotions. Take command of your time before others do and tell them the truth, or they may keep demanding more from or pestering you. Your assertiveness, integrity (and at times tactful bluntness) will allow you to get your most important job done. Your true friends or colleagues will respect your time and your priorities.
“Take command of your time before others do.” – Dr. Demartini
Since your work will expand or contract to fill the time allotted (Parkinson’s Law), if you don’t fill your space and time with high priorities, they can become filled with low priorities. And, if you don’t consume your energy and material resources with high-priority uses, they can become consumed by low priority ones. If you don’t intensify your day with inspired actions, things can slow down. Your time times your intensity will determine your results. Many distractions that are being initiated by others are often opportunistic in nature. Many are simply others trying to sell you something — an idea, a viewpoint, an opinion, a friendship — in exchange for your valuable life and time. Simply being aware of what is being sold allows you to be more deliberate in deciding whether you want to buy or spend time on it.
Gracefully, respectfully, and reasonably saying “no” may temporarily disappoint the opportunist, but eventually it will lead them to respecting and appreciating you even more. It shows that you are a professional more than just an amateur, and that you value yourself and your time more than their distractions. It is wiser to have a long-term gain in respect than a short-term bump in popularity. You cannot be popular with everyone all the time anyway. So ask yourself every morning: What exactly is the highest priority action step I can take today to help me fulfill my most purposeful, meaningful, productive and profitable dream tomorrow? The answer is the key to your success.