For those of you who read my posts often, I hope you have come to expect great references to books and articles by notable experts along with the added value of my own commentary.
Accordingly, today I would like to share a recent article I read by bestselling author Tim Ferriss (The 4-Hour Workweek) that dealt with “The Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO for short). In the article, Ferriss discussed the importance of being able to say “No” when it matters most. He raised a number of good points which are worthy of reflection and from which I’ve drawn a short list of questions to consider as you weigh requests for your time, attention, and focus.
- Will investing your precious time on the request help you get closer to one of your primary goals? We are bombarded with thousands of attention grabbing soundbites each and every day. Consider the overwhelming amount of emails, text messages, phone calls, social media, and advertisements EVERYWHERE you go. We must have active filters in place to ward off the interruptions which are of no interest or value to us. Each of us only has 168 hours in a week to accomplish everything we need and want to do; and we can never, ever borrow a few hours from someone else or from the future. Are you being wise or wasteful with your time this week?
- Will the request for your time help you in a targeted growth area? Having an annual growth and development plan is one of the key components of people who are successful in business as well as life. Each year, they predetermine one or a few areas of growth and commit to becoming more of the person they desire to be. Will spending time in the requested endeavor or activity definitively help? Remember, every time you say “Yes” to something, you are saying “No” to many other things. Ensure the “Yes” is for the things you prioritize and want to achieve.
- Are you saying “Yes” out of guilt or a sense of obligation someone else has placed on you? Guilt is one of those emotions that we either control or it controls us. I’ve found that people who are motivated or energized by pleasing others and who highly value the opinions others have of them have a tendency to act out of guilt more often than they are aware of. People can also agree to do something for someone else because of some obligatory reason that most likely is not based on fact. If you fall into one of these camps, you would benefit from becoming aware of this tendency and how it impacts your productivity and stress levels.
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- Is this the highest and best use of my time… right now? Hopefully you have identified the top three or four priorities you must allocate your time or attention to each day and each week in order to move closer to achieving your quarterly or yearly goals. This question helps direct specific allotments of time towards these critical priorities. We all have times of the day when we do our best work. Do you intentionally plan your day to take advantage of this principle? For myself, I tend to drag a little in the mid to late afternoon. This is the time when I do the items that are not so taxing on my brain. Conversely, I am sharper in the mid to late morning, so I do my major thinking and writing during this time (It’s 10:44am at the present moment!).
I hope these questions have stimulated some good thinking and reflection on your part. I have found it a good practice to never begin the day until it is finished on paper. This means that each morning, I spend a few minutes planning how I will spend the upcoming hours and what activities (projects, meetings, phone calls, intentional learning, etc.) I will focus on. I record them in specific spots on a paper calendar (yes, an old-fashioned paper calendar!) for the day. Believe it or not, the better I stick to the plan, the more successful my day is – every time.
If you want to learn more about how I do this, let me know – I’d be happy to walk you through the process.
PS, if you are interested in exploring the topic of making better decisions in how you spend your time and what you say “yes” or “no” to, I have written about it extensively in an e-book entitled, “Success In The C-Suite – Top Seven Strategies for Extraordinary Achievement.” You can get your copy here.