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Want To Know How To Balance Your Tasks And Relationships? Read This.

Want To Know How To Balance Your Tasks And Relationships? Read This.

Balancing everything in our lives is incredibly hard. Work, school, friends, significant others, errands, exercise, recreation, all of these things compete for our time and our attention. It’s tricky to balance all of these things, and no one does it right all of the time. However, you may be feeling that lately, things have been less balanced than they should be. If you’re having trouble finding balance between your relationships and everything else, read these seven tips for a more evenly distributed life.

1. Prioritize.

If you haven’t seen that one friend from college in a while and you keep putting him off, maybe it’s time for him to climb to the top of your list. Or maybe you really have to finish that presentation for a meeting tomorrow, so that’s really what you need to work on tonight. Whatever you need to focus on more is what you should put priority on. Write things down, make lists, leave reminders around the house, whatever you need to do to order people and tasks appropriately.

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2. Don’t kid yourself.

If you want to hang out with someone but have other, more pressing things to do, recognize that. What you feel and what you need are sometimes different things. Don’t let your emotions guide your behavior too much. Step back and look at things as objectively as you can. Feeling sad about missing out on a hangout with your friends is better than getting in trouble because something wasn’t turned in on time. Likewise, jeopardizing a friendship is not worth getting a task done a little early.

3. Compromise and multitask.

Maybe you can work from home while hanging out with your spouse. It’s often quite easy for people to work on their computers while simultaneously being around others. While this does mean that neither the task nor the relationship is getting as much attention as they would in other circumstances, it’s a good balance to strike between work and play. Doing this too much can cause neglect on both accounts, but every once in a while it can be a life-saver.

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4. Don’t feel guilty.

Sometimes, you simply have to say “no.” However much you hate letting others down, feeling guilty won’t do anyone any good. Instead of beating yourself up about it, try offering an alternative or a different time. “I wish I could, but I’m totally swamped at work this week. Can we reschedule for this weekend?”

5. See beyond the present.

Make plans with others. Even if you’re busy right now, you can always plan for tomorrow, this weekend, next month, whenever. Simply having plans with others makes them feel important. It demonstrates to them that you are trying to include them in your life, and that you value the relationship that you share.

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6. Expect interruptions.

This goes for both tasks and relationships. You’re not always going to get through an evening with someone without getting interrupted by work. You’re also not always going to get through a day at the office without a personal phone call. Things happen, and it’s ok. Take the interruptions in stride and don’t let them derail your day.

7. Make time for what is important.

Sometimes the only way to have time for something is to make time for it. Cut something else out of your day, put something off, move things around in your schedule, stay up late. If something is important to you or someone else, make sure you listen to your needs (and the needs of other people) and act accordingly. It might take some work to accommodate everything, but with a little effort, you’re sure to get everything balanced.

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Featured photo credit: Kristina Alexanderson via flickr.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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