When you look back on the year, do you find that you OVER PROGRAMED yourself? OR did others over program your time by asking you to do things you felt compelled to do? Have you ever thought about saying NO? Well maybe it would be more like, NO THANK YOU, in a very diplomatic way that still makes YOU look like the hero or people pleaser that you are.
A colleague says, "The clients file is on your desk." When this happens you feel you have to drop everything and work the file OR do you? You could say, "I won’t be able to get to it until Tuesday, will that work for you?"
A client gives you a document to review. You must be responsive, (after all your marketing materials say that you are.) But it is about the perception and managing their expectations. You could say, "I can get that for you in 48 hours, will that work for you?" When you say 2 days… that sounds like a long time. But if you say 48 hours… that has a sense of urgency.
An important contact calls and asks you to lunch. You know you need to spend time with this person but lunch is going to cut at least 2 hours out of your already jammed schedule. You could say, "I don’t have time for lunch but how about if we both grab our coffee in the morning and have a conference call say, about 8:30, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to get caught up. Would that work for you?"
When management asks for volunteers… you know that it is an opportunity to stand out, but you have so much on your plate as it is. You could say, "I can’t take on the entire project; however if someone wants to share the project, I could do that, and besides collaboration always makes for a better quality result.
In each scenario you said "No Thank You!" However, it is in the most gentle of ways. Meanwhile you keep control of YOUR time and negotiate it on YOUR terms.