Manage Time & Learn to Say No Positively
There are five life skills that are important tools in keeping work/life balance. This article focuses on three of those skills: Self Awareness, Setting Boundaries, and Time Management. Positive Thinking for Life Balance described the remaining two skills of Positive Thinking and Using your Unique Strengths.
Self awareness is the skill of being able to watch yourself as if from a distance while simultaneously carrying on your normal daily activities and interactions. Did you ever think back about an interaction you had with someone and feel regret at the words or tone you used? Perhaps you entered that interaction with some overhead, such as an earlier situation still in mind affecting your interaction.
Self awareness will help you prevent this situation by enabling you to correct your behavior in real time.
Many of our routine behaviors and reactions to outside events and circumstances result – almost automatically – from fundamental beliefs we hold about the topic or situation. These beliefs are brought forward from childhood, carrying the imprint of parents, teachers, religious leaders, and other influences.
Building greater skill in self awareness will help you identify the source of your subconscious responses, allowing you to examine and choose a reaction based on your adult knowledge and experience.
Set and Enforce Boundaries
A lack of skill and ability to set and enforce boundaries is often a source of life imbalance. Helpful people are especially susceptible to boundary violations because they have difficulty saying no.
Self Awareness to Identify Boundaries
There are two important steps to master. The first is to identify important boundaries using self awareness.To identify your own personal important boundaries be aware of how you feel, especially when asked to do something, go somewhere, or join something.
When you feel very uncomfortable about a situation it is often because a boundary is being violated or is in danger of being violated. Reflect on past situations where you’ve been very uncomfortable, perhaps even resentful. These are potential boundary situations.
Once a boundary is known, the second step is enforcement. Enforcing a boundary uses the art of saying no. The difficulty most people have with saying no is a reluctance to disappoint or offend. However, agreeing to do something under these circumstances often leads to resentment and inner anger.
It is possible to say no in a positive and helpful way, avoiding offending or disappointing others while feeling good about oneself.
William Ury, in The Power of a Positive No, suggests a three-part process for saying no.
- First, examine your reason for saying no, linking it to a value that would be affected by the request.
- Second, construct a no response that is respectful but still firm and informs the requesting person of the value you feel you must honor. For example, “I’m so sorry, but that conflicts with my son’s soccer game, and attending his activities is very important to me.”
- Third, suggest an alternative, such as “However, I could attend the next week if you’d provide a summary of what I missed this week.”
Every person has 24 hours a day to accomplish their goals and aspirations. Time Management might better be described as Time Utilization. How you decide to utilize your 24 hours will determine your success in accomplishing your goals and your satisfaction with your work/life balance.
Skill at time utilization begins with awareness. To assure you understand where you’re spending your time, keep a time utilization journal for a week or two. Note your daily activities, accounting for all 24 hours, using categories representing the major activities of your life, such as work, sleep, parenting, food shopping and preparation, play, personal, TV/Entertainment, etc.
At the end of the week add up the hours in each category. Are you utilizing your time in ways that promote your goals and aspirations and keep life balanced?
Five Skills for Life Balance
Mastering the three skills described here, Self Awareness, Setting Boundaries, and Time Management, when combined with Positive Thinking and Using Your Strengths will support your journey toward a balanced life.