After my last blog post, you had to see this one coming. Saying no or not right now is actually just a way of saying yes to something else. You can’t manage time, only what you do with it. Saying no is just identifying a different priority for your time. We make those choices every single moment – choosing to go to the gym, building a business, enhancing a relationship, binge-watching Maine Cabin Masters. Every time we say yes to something we are saying no to all the other possible uses of that time and energy. The question we all face is – are we making good choices with our limited time?
A friend of mine taught me the concept of getting to a better yes. In that context, it was about delivering what customers really need vice what they say they want. Supposedly, Henry Ford said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Ford clearly thought a better yes was a car, based on what people needed to do, not what they thought they needed. That is a pretty good guideline to use in deciding how we will spend our time. Think of yourself as the customer and focus on what you really need.
When we say yes to how we spend our time, we often struggle with short versus long term thinking. There are our long term goals which may require work and even sacrifice over an extended period. Then there is short term pleasure or convenience or even urgency, which can lead to choices like skipping a workout, taking a nap instead of writing a blog post, or staying late at work instead of making your child’s soccer game. We clearly make choices in the moment about what we say yes to – but is it a better yes?
“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
Freewill lyrics, Rush
168 hours. That is what we all get every single week – both a wonderful continuous resource and a limited and fleeting one. When I think about getting to a better yes, I see that there is a lot of time for me to spend on many different things. Once I subtract 50 hours for work and commuting and another 56 for sleeping (I might be a bit low on the first number, but a bit high on the second) I see that I still have 62 hours every week. That is plenty of time to spend on those things that really matter to me and have plenty of time left over to relax or do something just because it makes me feel good.
As I have shared before, I am a big believer in capturing my things-I-wanna-get-done on paper. That works for me, you might prefer an app or your calendar. As long as you capture things outside of your head, it’s easy to view them and understand your priorities. That makes is easy to decide what you will say yes to doing with your time. You don’t need to wonder every second if you are spending your time wisely or well, but if you keep your most important goals in mind, you will get to a better-informed Yes.
I hope reading this has been a good use of your time and will inspire you to get to a better Yes.