Over the past 15 years, I have become a Master Juggler. As both a mother and a business owner, I balance commitments such as business travel, all-team meetings and strategic planning with chaperoning field trips, summer camp registration, carpool and birthday party planning. Plus, I have a husband, friends, extended family and a personal life. That’s a lot of balls in the air. I am often asked: “How do you get it all done? How do you accomplish absolutely everything!?”
I don’t know the answer to that question because I don’t do everything. Not even close.
The way that I get my stuff done is by not trying, not wanting, to do it all.
There is so, so much that I do not do. I’m not referring to delegating many tasks in my personal and professional life, (although delegation is essential and something I have learned to rely on over time.)
What I am talking about is saying no. Before you download a new time-management app or read one more article with tips to get organized, shift your focus. Instead of trying to get more done, give yourself less to do. It’s like my son’s bedroom: instead of organizing his piles of crap, we first need to sort through it and discard about half of it. That will simplify the organizing process.
Many years ago, SBC was a one woman show. I managed every function in the company, from reconciling bank statements to managing Google Ads to processing all orders. The company was growing and I was pulling many all-nighters, just trying to keep up. Finally, my husband intervened and showed me how to cut an 11-step process down to six steps. It turned out that I was doing a lot of unnecessary work. Instead of finding the time to get through all 11 steps, we said no to several steps, and that’s how I bought myself time.
When it comes to personal and professional obligations or requests from others, I must admit, saying “no” is hard for me. I don’t like to upset anyone, burn bridges or decline meaningful opportunities. Last week I decided to step down from my high school alumni council, walking away from a second three-year term. It’s a limited time commitment, a lot of fun and I enjoy the connection to my alma mater. But I had to say no, because these minor commitments add up and take me away from my priorities. I often run through my to-do list (which is the backbone of my organizational system) and cross items off the list as I decide they aren’t essential. That’s certainly a quick and easy way to “get things done!”
To say no, I must be very clear about my priorities (realizing that they change over time), and embrace events and commitments that make the most sense for me in the context of my schedule and personal plans. Like anything, it takes practice and there is no perfect. However, having “no” as a viable option is an important tool to leverage when trying to get it “all” done.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. How is it that some people get so much more done than others? Perhaps they aren’t getting more done. Perhaps they are focused on getting the right things done.
What do you think? Are there things that you can eliminate from your to do list, in order to make room for what really matters to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me at bigpicture@StacyBlackman.com.