Early on in my career, I was working long hours in my HR job and not getting enough sleep or exercise. My life was out of balance, and I blamed my job. Looking back, I realize that the fault was really mine for not setting boundaries. Yes, the job was overwhelming and I was on a steep learning curve. But I also didn’t know how to say NO or manage my time well.
Here are 4 of the top lessons I learned:
1. Be very careful about what you say YES to.
Don’t take on additional work in your personal or professional life unless it’s in sync with your values, increases your visibility or teaches you a new skill. If you struggle with saying NO, come up with a stock phrase like “I wish I could help but I have too much on my plate right now.”
2. Learn when and how to negotiate.
If you want to take on a new work project, but don’t know how you can possibly fit it in, negotiate with your manager to make it work for both of you. This might sound like “I would really like to take on this project. But to be successful at it, I’ll need to delegate these deliverables to others on the team.”
3. Realize that when you say YES to something, you’re saying NO to something else.
When you consider volunteering at your kids’ school, think about what the trade-offs are. Are you willing to give up going for a walk or enjoying down time so that you can take this on?
4. Increase your presence & focus with conscious decision-making.
If you make conscious choices about how to spend your time, then you can fully immerse yourself in what you’re doing and not waste energy second guessing yourself.