When your professional life is filled with competing priorities, it often becomes difficult to provide the necessary attention to everything. Inevitably, something fails.
Setting realistic expectations
As you review requests made of your time and resources, it is important that there are finite expectations associated with it. Open-ended and unclear expectations are either set up for potential failure or a long-term resource sucking engagement. Organization of your time through a calendar or planner can help you know your availability and what you can offer.
Anytime a request is made, be sure to ask about timelines, input requirements, and outcome success metrics. This way, you have clarity and a defined plan to move forward.
Keeping it in context
Any activity, decision, or utilization of your time and resources must fit into a plan. There needs to be a context to a larger goal or objective set. Otherwise, your time and energy are beholden to someone else’s plans. This is not to say that you cannot volunteer and support others, but it should be a CHOICE to do so.
By establishing your goals and objectives, you have the lens through which you can make decisions. Look at how the request of your time fits into the overall plan – does it move it forward? Is it contrary to your goal? Do you have time to expand on this request?
With a plan in place, decisions become easier and you can more easily and effectively say NO.
Learning to say NO
Many requests of your time and resources are made because you have a history of success or of saying YES. By understanding the expectations of any request and how it fits into your overall plan, you can make a decision as to whether the benefits and value make sense (for you and the other party). It may be that you are not the best suited to fulfill the request. Offering alternatives can provide a solution without damaging your relationship with the requester. Remember that you can still have input on a project and be involved without taking on full ownership of execution.
Your time, energy, and resources are valuable to you and those around you. Do not offer, sacrifice, or waste them. Be very intentional with them and make sure that they always serve a greater purpose.