hourglass“When you focus on the top three most important outcomes you are committed to achieving, saying “no” becomes a great deal easier.” — Misti Burmeister

When was the last time you said “My weekend was too short!” or “I wish I had more time!”?

You want to be successful – to do more, achieve more, go more places, talk to more people. Problem is, unless you’re a robot or manage to clone yourself, there’s only so much one person can do before running out of energy.

Case in point: Completely exhausted from nearly seven days of non-stop meetings, I wondered how in the world I was going to make it through the next two days. (I bet you can relate.)

Why can’t you learn how to say “no” every once in a while? I asked myself, thinking that if I forced myself to stick to all my plans for the day, I would teach myself a valuable lesson about time management.

I immediately realized how unkind those words were and wondered how I could learn my lesson without beating myself up further.

It was 4:30 a.m., and my mind was racing, thinking about  everything I needed to accomplish. As I laid in bed, staring at the clock on my phone, I realized just how tired I would be at my first meeting of the day. Having already shared an hour on the phone with Kristen, third in command at a major corporation, I was excited to learn more and build a relationship.

You need to reschedule, I thought, as a wave of intense irritation came over me. Why didn’t you manage your time better?

The simple answer: I wanted to do it all. Now here I was, for the second morning in a row, staring at my phone before sunrise.

I also had a radio interview scheduled that day, and I had already paid for an event I was really looking forward to attending that evening. The event hosts had even invited me to the after party, and I had several guests attending.

I was wide awake and starting to feel sick. Clearly something had to give – either my sanity or my ego.

So, I rescheduled my appointment, reached out to my guests and the event hosts to wish them a delightful evening, and kept my promise for the 30-minute interview.

For some people, a heart attack or other major illness finally wakes them up to the consequences of their unhealthy decisions. For me, it was several nights of restless sleep after stretching myself way too thin.

If this scenario sounds familiar to you, then you probably need the same wake-up call.  Work is important, but so are your health and happiness.

Now, I’m working to become more purposeful with each day. I do this by creating a list of projects that are in alignment with my quest (or my greater vision). I set three goals for the year, the month, and the week. Before I agree to attend any meeting or event, I ask myself how doing so will help further my vision.

When you focus on the top three most important outcomes you are committed to achieving, saying “no” becomes a great deal easier, because you know that doing so frees you up to say “yes” to the right opportunities.

Clones are unnecessary. You can have your cake and eat it too. You simply need to know what kind of cake you want most!

Join the Conversation: What strategies do you use to manage your time?

Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across GenerationsHidden Heroes and Power Suck.

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