30 Apr Schedule your time or it will Schedule you (excerpt from Coordinating Chaos)
“You can’t FIND time. I’m super sorry to be the bearer of bad news. There is no extra time hiding in the bottom of your purse or underneath that paper pile on your desk. You get what you get, and can’t throw a fit. I mean you can, but, believe me, it won’t help or add time to your day – I know, I’ve tried.
You have been entrusted not only with your people, but also with your time and opportunities. How you use the time you have and the opportunities you are presented with can bless those around you and leave a legacy, or keep you running in circles and never allow you to make the impact you were designed to make. You are responsible for using your time wisely because, well, you really only get the one shot at it.
Alright, that was a little bit heavy. But I really do want you to grasp that idea before we move on. Take a hold of our schedule and run it, so it doesn’t end up running you.
That sounds great. But I know what you’re thinking, “how in the actual world am I supposed to do that, when my schedule is already stuffed full and to-dos are still seeping through the seams?” I feel ya, sister! We’ll definitely delve deeper into that throughout this chapter, but the first thing you gotta do: actively push things off your plate.
You already know that I’m a super busy gal. I got the kids, my job, my business. Then the sports, activities and house stuff. And to be super transparent, I have not always been great at saying no to adding things to the list. I was the gal that if it was in my capabilities or seemed like there was even a small possibility that I could do the job or take on the task, I would say yes and add it to my list. I know it was because I didn’t want to let people down. I felt like by saying no – if I had the skills and capability to do it – I would somehow be selfish. So, I usually always said yes, and, you know, throw a “it’s fine” in there to justify it. Yes, I was overloaded. Yes, I was a stress cadet. Yes, things that should have been enjoyable and joyful felt like burdens. But I just didn’t know how to say no. Then a few years ago, I had a conversation that flipped my whole entire perspective on its head.
I was teaching multiple classes during the day, teaching online classes for the University, running my health and wellness business in my ‘free’ time, and coaching my daughter’s cheer team. Oh, and of course doing the normal mom stuff. Busy was just the name of the game. One afternoon I got an email from a colleague at the College I adjunct for extending an invitation to participate with a group of professors in developing curriculum that would bridge the gap between High School and Community College, to help students be successful in the transition and increase their chances of continuing their college career. This was an amazing opportunity! The need for a program like this is so important and something I was really excited about participating in. Not to mention, I was so honored to even be asked. The group was to meet every Wednesday for the remainder of the school year at exactly the same time as cheer practice. As the head coach for cheer, of course I couldn’t not go to practice on Wednesdays for the rest of the entire season. And, in lies the dilemma. Now, please understand, I also super love coaching cheer – it’s hilarious. The girls are so fun and dedicated. We always joke about it basically being the ‘Twilight Zone’ because the wackiest stuff happens at practice. It has become a big part of my life and is my connection with my only daughter, who I think was born to cheer. At this decision crossroad, I knew that I had to say no to this opportunity with the college. My responsibility as a coach, and my relationship with my daughter, were far more important. So I replied to the Chairman of the Committee heading up the curriculum development, who is also a good friend of mine, and told her that while I was really honored to be asked to be a part of this committee, I would have to wait until some things fell off my plate. Her response was something that I will never forget. It actually drastically changed my outlook on my schedule and in saying ‘yes’ to things. She said, “Alicia, things do not fall off your plate, you have to actively push things off your plate.”
What???!!! It was like this crazy epiphany. All of sudden things were really clear and I had a different outlook on scheduling, time and agreeing to commitments. That sounds dramatic, but it’s really true. I had never thought of it like that before. From that day on, I have been actively pushing things off my plate.
Yes, girl, we are gonna talk about how to do that. But right now I want you to take a minute and think about what commitments, tasks, obligations, you may need to actively push off your plate. At the end of this chapter – your homework – has this question. So take a minute to consider. What in your schedule did you say yes to out of obligation? What task at work did you say yes to that someone else could do just as well? What commitment did you agree to that really doesn’t bring you any joy? I want you to identify just one thing that you can push off your plate today and take steps to do that. It might feel scary. You might feel like you are going to make someone upset. But let me tell you a truth. If you come at it with a sincere heart and simply explain that you have other priorities right now that need to take precedence, they are not going to be upset. It is ok to say no. Let me be the person to tell you that. I ignored it for too long, and it caused a lot more stress and anxiety than I needed to deal with. Also, I’m sure that since I was pulled in so many directions, I wasn’t giving 100% to any one of the things on my list.
How do you decide if it’s something to push off the plate? You start by looking at your priorities.”
Check out the rest in my book Coordinating Chaos!