I recently came across a neat article that reinforced something I had been thinking about and implementing over the past few months. Instead of committing to things that you would rate as a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10, try to put your time into things where you are really excited – a 9 or a 10 on that scale; the things that make you say “hell yes!”.
Obviously, not everything is going to fit that scale – I’ve got to get the trash out whether I like it or not. I suppose I could let it pile up and avoid the boring task of taking it to the curb but the downside is that my garage would fill up with trash. On the other hand, if it was that big of an issue I could find someone to do it for me (I hardly think that would be worth the cost) or try and bargain with Jeney to trade some chores around (again, not worth it! hehe).
Saying yes to events and things that you are genuinely excited about can really have some good effects on your day to day life. Instead of feeling like you are being dragged into things, you want to have the feeling that you are looking forward to whatever is next. If you were committing yourself to occasions that ranked low on your list, why were you going at all? You would probably be better off with the free time where you could relax, come up with something better to do with your time, or get something done that is on your “hell yes!” list.
I have used this over the past few months to change the way I commit to social events. If I’m tired, not very interested, or just have something I’d rather be doing, I try and say so. It’s usually not a personal jab or anything negative; I just know that I would be happier not being at that particular event at that time – so why be there?!? If you add to that the fact that I’m not a complete extrovert you get a much happier Adam who knows when to say no and when to dive into a project/event/party.
The funny part is that I feel like I’m really going against the grain sometimes. Saying yes and being sociable is such a part of our culture that it can be odd to opt out of social encounters and events sometimes.
Even more fun is implementing this at work! That can take a bit more subtlety, but learning to redirect queries into something that you want to be actively participating in can pay off huge! When I’m asked if I can do something I run it through a quick mental sieve:
- Is this something I want to invest my time in? If not, is there an angle or portion of it that I know I want to do or be in control of? If so, do it and make it known you are better at that specific portion.
- If I want no part of it, think up a better way of doing it or find a legitimate reason as to why this is not worth doing.
- Will this take less than 15 minutes? If so, do it.
- Am I really engaged with something else? If not, do it.
Of course, work is different than other situations in that you will find yourself doing things that you may not always have at the top of your list. However, by making it known what types of things you really enjoy investing your time in and following through you can make a change over time. For myself, I never really thought that I would be allowed to spend time learning to program at work. I now spend some days doing exactly that. As it turns out there is no one else here that can do much computational modeling and they are happy to have me work on it after I mentioned that I thought I could use it to improve our understanding of some of the systems and then did just that.
Now I’m off to go for a walk before lunch because that’s about the only thing I can say “hell yes!” to right now after sitting and doing some paperwork this morning!
The original article can be found here at Derek Sivers blog.