If you constantly say yes, here’s how to tell when you shouldn’t.
Before you agree to that video chat, here’s what to ask yourself to figure out if it’s worth a spot in your schedule.
Within the first 30 seconds of our video call, I knew saying yes had been a mistake.
She and I were clearly there for different reasons. I’d scheduled the call based on an assumption of what it would be about, and that assumption had been wrong (as they so often are!).
I felt like my time had been hijacked, and I was annoyed. But I wasn’t annoyed at her. My assumption and my erroneous yes weren’t her fault; they were mine. I was annoyed at myself for not having guarded my time better.
It was a classic case of letting someone else’s priorities dictate the way my time was being used, and as I closed the screen on the video chat at the end of the call, I vowed, “Never again.”
I realized that I needed filtering questions so that I wouldn’t become my own enemy. I LOVE saying yes, and I do it by default unless I have a practice in place to stop me. Can you relate?
Between running our careers, raising our kids, and running our home lives, we don’t have room for extraneous stuff to make it onto our schedules.
Just because something or someone wants your attention doesn’t mean you should give it to them.
So how do we make sure that only the things that matter end up on our calendars? We have filtering questions, and we use them. There will never be an end to people’s requests of your time. You are a highly sought-after, fabulous, talented person. Why wouldn’t folks want a piece of you? Waiting for your schedule to open up when the requests stop coming in is therefore ridiculous. Instead, write up some filtering questions and use them, so you know exactly what to say yes and no to—and you won’t have to waste your precious time noodling on decisions.
When a new opportunity comes across my plate, I ask the following filtering questions:
- For the first question, identify what matters most to you. For me, it’s the well-being of myself and my family. So my question is: Will this allow me to tend to the well-being of my family and myself in a way that I’m proud of?
If the answer to this question is no, then my answer to the opportunity is no. If the answer to this question is yes, I move onto the next question.
- For the second question, identify what your No. 1 career goal is right now. For me, it’s to grow my membership, Origin, because it aligns with my greater purpose and what our customers need, so my question is: Will this help me grow or nurture Origin?
If the answer to this question is yes, I accept. If it’s no, I move onto the last question.
- For your final question, think about your greater mission. What do you stand for?
- What breaks your heart the most? Where do you feel called to serve? For me, it’s uplifting women and girls so my final question is: Will this help me to uplift women and girls in some other powerful way that I feel deeply aligned with?
If the answer to this question is no, then my answer to the opportunity is no.
These filtering questions are how I guard my time. It doesn’t matter so much what exactly your filtering questions are. What matters is that you take some time to connect with yourself and the deeper meaning of your life and craft questions that speak to the truth of who you are. And then, of course, you need to use them.
We can always make more money. But we can’t make any more time, so we must guard our time with our lives. Because our time is our life. If you feel overwhelmed by all of the opportunities and demands on your time, come up with your own filtering questions. When you make time for what matters and get focused on it, getting the results you want is inevitable. Filter everything that comes across your plate through your filtering questions and the muck of overwhelm and indecision will turn into clarity of purpose and time well invested with results to prove it.
As an entrepreneur, bestselling author and mother, Kate Northrup has built a multimedia digital empire that reaches hundreds of thousands globally. She’s committed to supporting ambitious women to light up the world without burning themselves out in the process. Kate teaches data-driven and soul-driven time and energy management practices that result in saving time, making more money and experiencing less stress. Kate has a membership of over 1,000 entrepreneurs called Origin Collective, and she has helped over 5,000 students heal their relationship with money with her signature Money Love Course. She’s the author of Money: A Love Story and Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Moms. Kate’s work has been featured by The Today Show, Yahoo! Finance, Women’s Health, Glamour, the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Wanderlust, the Huffington Post, and more. Kate lives with her husband and business partner, Mike, and their daughters in a cozy town in Maine. Visit her website: katenorthrup.com