Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just Say "No"

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more I recently presented a breakout session for the Alabama Staff Development Council Convention. As we talked about how to organize the task list to get the most done in the shortest amount of time, one participant asked, "Is it OK just to not do something?"

What a great question, and what an important question! The answer is not only "yes," it is OK to leave certain things undone, it is essential. Today's world presents unlimited choices and finite time. We could easily spend all day watching YouTube. One diversion blends into the next and all of them are "nice."

There is nothing wrong with a little diversion, but I think there are two important points to be made:
  • We must recognize when we are engaged in diversion
  • We must recognize that if important tasks are not being handled, minimizing what does not need to be done in the first place is a prime place to start recouping some time.

Take a good look at your to-do list. Is it longer than you would like? If the answer is "yes," start looking at what could simply be eliminated with no harm being done.

This sentiment was echoed by Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, in his keynote at this year's National Middle School Association national Conference. Collins advocated having a "stop doing" list.

Examining your to-do list will help in another way. When you realize the volume of what you have on your plate, you are less likely to take on trivia.

When we say "yes" to one thing we are by definition saying "no" to something else. In these busy times, let's make sure we are saying "yes" to the right things. Learning to say "no" to the others is a good place to start.
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