So this is my dining room table. Lil’ scary, huh? It’s my actual December to do list in 3D form. Which is, unfortunately, how I operate best. Well, it’s how I operate anyway. I suppose best is debatable. I am very visual and very tactile and I seem to need a physical reminder of the tasks before me. The problem is I also have to do things in chunks. And there just don’t seem to be enough chunks of time these days!
What you won’t see in this room or anywhere else in my house yet are Christmas decorations. I know! It’s kind of sad. And I really love decorating for the holidays, so I will, eventually. Soon. But first I am determined to end the year on an organized note, so I simply cannot decorate until some of the projects on the dining room table are complete.
I must tell you that I want to decorate so badly. So much more than I want to go through insurance paperwork and bills and even Christmas shopping. It’s taken a long time for me to get to the point of knowing my limits, but I am making progress. I know my time and energy are not boundless. And I know that this year staying sane through the holidays means that I simply have got to finish some things first before I start something new.
So I am saying no to myself and my natural inclination to try and do it all. I am focusing on the long-term goals I have for me and my family beyond the holiday and on the short-term goal I have for a mellow Christmas break. I think a calm and merry mom is a better gift for my son than a well-decorated house. But it’s hard to say no, isn’t it? Or to say no to the right things.
“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” (Steve Jobs)
I am learning that if you say yes to the wrong things then you don’t leave enough time for the things that matter most. I realized recently that I was saying no to my son a lot. “No, sorry, I can’t snuggle – I still have work to do.” “Not right now, I need to get some things done.” Nothing crazy. All pretty valid. All somewhat mundane. Some things were real deadlines, others were self-created pressures. But if my son is what matters most to me then why am constantly putting him on the no list when it comes to prioritizing my time?
When he was little I realized if I gave him 30 minutes of devoted playtime our day went smoother and his needs were better fulfilled. I am trying to get back to that. If I don’t have 30 minutes of uninterrupted time for just him that seems really sad. So that is part of the reason I am on a mission to end this year on an organized note and to not burn myself out even if that means minimal holiday décor. I am saying no now, so I can, hopefully, say yes a lot more in the year to come.
How about you? Having trouble learning how to say no? Feeling resentful or pressured to say yes to things that are not your top priority? Alexandra Franzen offers the best advice on How to Say No to Anyone (Even a Good Friend).
To read more about the relationship between ‘Saying No” and time management: http://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbooth/2014/05/27/top-10-ways-to-say-no-and-save-time/. This short article is full of practical suggestions.