We have all been guilty, at one time or another, of spreading ourselves too thin. It seems we have a knee-jerk reaction to say “yes” to most things that are asked of us. But at what cost? Yes costs more than money, or even time. There comes a point when all of those “yeses” are at the expense of our own well-being and reputation, and they make us less effective in the process. The old saying “jack of all trades, master of none” applies here. When we have agreed to too many things, we don’t do any of them well. What cost does that have to your reputation? Only when we are deliberate about what we give our time to, can we build a reputation of trustworthiness and effectiveness. It is better to do a phenomenal job on 5 tasks, than a mediocre job on 10.
In Greg McKeown’s book, The Way of the Essentialist, he discusses doing less, but better, so you can make the highest possible contribution. It isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about only getting the right things done. It is about regaining control of our own choices and where we spend our time and energy. By applying a more selective criteria for what is essential, the pursuit of “less” allows us to regain control of our own choices so we can channel our time, energy and effort into making the highest possible contribution toward the goals and activities that matter. “By applying a more selective criteria for what is essential, the pursuit of less allows us to regain control of our own choices so we can channel our time, energy and effort into making the highest possible contribution toward the goals and activities that matter.”
Ari Meister discusses this concept in terms of life balance, in his book Less Doing More Living. One of his tenets is using “upper and lower limits to trade quantity for quality.” An upper limit is a maximum you can’t exceed, and a lower limit is a minimum you can’t fall below. For example, an upper limit of the amount of time you spend on email each day, and a lower limit of 2 golf games a month. Both of these limits help you trade quantity for quality in your life.
I recently joined an international mastermind group and one of the books we are reading and applying is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Yes by Greg McKeown. It has helped me immensely in being better at work and at home. More intentional; deciding what NOT to do so that I can do the things I choose to do better.
So, be deliberate about what you give your time to. Don’t be so quick to say “yes”. Think through the true cost of the “yes” and then you can fully commit.