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Productivity & Organizing Myth #9 – We need a lot of stuff!

Productivity & Organizing Myth #9 – We need a lot of stuff!
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    Myth: We need a lot of material things.
    Reality: We can succeed and be happy with very little stuff.

    When we productivity pros hear a few phrases we pay attention because you are giving clues to your mindset. Do you say a version of any of these things?

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    • I need another ______ (fill in the blank- pair of shoes, suit, house, car, computer, tech toy, etc.)
    • It would be nice to pay off those credit cards!
    • If we lived in a bigger house we’d be tidy because we’d have a place to put things.
    • I spend all weekend cutting the grass, washing the car, and maintaining the house.
    • Put the car in the garage – ha!

    Here are some downsides to having too much stuff:

    • You have to pay for it
    • You have to insure it
    • You have to maintain it
    • You have to walk and work around it
    • You have to store it
    • You won’t have room for new stuff to come into your life

    In a few chapters of my life I got rid of almost everything. I stopped my job and resigned from all my volunteer positions. We sold the house. We put half of everything in recycle or the dumpster. The rest of our stuff went into storage. And, I lived very happily for years! This was extreme but illustrates how little I needed. For example, I was in Europe for 4 months with:

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    • 1 backpack
    • 1 pair of pants
    • 1 pair of shorts
    • 1 skirt
    • 3 shirts
    • 1 sweater
    • 1 jacket
    • 1 pair of shoes (2 pr socks)

    TJ is experiencing a similar revelation as he is getting divorced and living in a rented 2-bedroom townhouse. This weekend he said to me, “It’s amazing how little you really need. A couple of carloads of stuff and a dozen pieces of furniture and I am all set up here. I have the kids every other weekend and visitors now and then and really do have all I need. I got used to the 3 car garage and filled that with all kinds of things but I sure do fine without them.” TJ now has a one-car garage.

    Linda’s revelation came when she moved to New York City (NYC). Her new place is 1/5th the size of her suburban home. Forced by space limitations Linda scaled to having what she needs and no more. Multiple pair of black shoes are now represented by just 2 pair – and that’s the only color she wears with her traditional corporate/banking wardrobe. Still, she’s content with her living quarters and the abundance of little neighborhood restaurants that she frequents rather than cook daily. And, she’s since moving to the coop, she’s added two little ones (kids) to the ‘limited’ space.

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    When circumstances push these real-life people to consider what they really need they have adjusted and lived rich lives with much less stuff. They also focus a lot more on the experiences in their life and are free from things that consume loads of money, time and energy.

    Previous Myths:

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    Susan Sabo is an intrepid traveler who has organized her life to be out of the country for months at a time. She’s visited South & Central America, Europe, Asia, ‘Down Under” and traveled across North America. Susan writes at www.productivitycafe.com, consults with professionals on improving their personal productivity and presents motivating productivity programs & tips (such as how to get ready for the busy season) to groups.

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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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