No one likes to admit they aren’t a superhero. I’m no exception. I’ve often agreed to “one thing too many,” only to turn around and find that pleasing everyone just wasn’t possible because of something else I’d already said I’d do. If this sounds familiar, chances are, you’ve had at least one person close to you tell you how much you disappointed them or how badly you screwed up their plans. The good news is, there really is a way to get more organized and make sure you can always keep your promises. 7 ways, to be more precise. Use these 7 ways to always do what you say you’ll do to keep your life more organized and balanced.
1) Don’t agree to or promise anything you’re not absolutely sure you can deliver.
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This seems simple, but it may actually be the hardest thing on this list. You agree to a favor for a friend. Then your boss nails you with a big project that has a tight deadline. Next, your spouse asks you to undertake a repair job that goes from “fifteen minutes and a screwdriver” to “four hours, no end in sight, and every single tool in the toolbox.” Finally, your college professor wants to meet with you about your performance, all in the middle of Pluming-geddon. What do you do? Some things can’t wait. We understand this. So the things that can may have to, but once you’ve agreed to it, you had better provide. You owe it to yourself and those around you.
2) Keep a reasonable schedule.
A reasonable schedule doesn’t mean working for 48 hours straight and then sleeping for 12. A reasonable schedule involves making time for your obligations, your family, and yourself. If you find yourself buried under a couple of big projects, or a plethora of smaller ones that threaten to interfere with that, it is time to stop and reevaluate what you’re doing.
3) Be honest, to yourself and the people you make promises to.
Honest Tea Cap (Photo credit: Dome Poon)
“Oh, sure, that’ll be easy!” “I can do that in two shakes, no problem!” “Pffffft….of course I’m sure!” (All the while, your inner voice is screaming, “And just where are you going to find the time for all that, Chuckles?”) We all want to appear confident and capable in front of our peers, our employers, or our families. Nothing shreds that perception faster than trying to bluff about how much you can do in a day. You’ve only got 24 hours. Be realistic about what you can accomplish. You’ll get more respect by saying, “I can’t, because…” than you will by getting yourself buried in projects with no end in sight.
4) Don’t make excuses.
If you’ve gotten yourself in over your head, don’t make excuses or try to pass the blame off on someone else. You got yourself in too deep, and need to own this. Just be honest and let the chips fall where they may. You might be surprised at how understanding most people are, if you only give them the chance to be.
5) Say no to things.
Sometimes, there’s only one way to deal with someone who’s trying to add that last straw onto your back. The word “no” exists in every language on Earth for a reason, folks. If you’re about to hit that “one straw too many,” this is what the word “no” is for! It’s better to refuse something than to put your entire schedule in jeopardy and derail all the promises you’ve made because you tried to do too much.
6) Suggest compromises or alternate suggestions.
If you can’t drop everything to deal with something right now, maybe you can think of a compromise or the name of someone else who can do it better, faster, or who’s just less busy. Rather than a flat “no,” this is a productive alternative for showing that although you’re busy beyond any reasonable definition of sanity, you’re still willing to take time to help out. Even if it’s not in the way the other person or people hoped for, that counts for something.
7) Understand that you are only human, and expect the same from others.
I very much doubt you’re wearing an S on your chest, hail from a planet with a red sun, or have an allergy to glowing green crystals of extraterrestrial origin. While it can be tempting to try to impress the people around you by doing more by 8am than they’ll do all day, it’s not really necessary. If you have people around you who don’t seem to understand that you’re only human, it’s time to have a talk with them and explain it to them in a way that cannot be misinterpreted. If YOU don’t understand that you’re only human, you need to take a time-out and a reality check. You’re going to hurt yourself if you don’t. You’ll be more productive, healthier, and happier for it!