Saying No

just_say_no.gifSince moving back to Jamaica from the U.S. I have had to learn the power of critical importance of saying no.

There is no magic to either geographic location, it’s just that the complete and total change of environment naturally leads one to create new time demands that are impossible to fulfill.  There is also no particular magic in the move from north to south, as the same thing happens when someone migrates in the opposite direction.

When I moved here to Kingston, I remember feeling a little overwhelmed by all the things I wanted to fix in the environment.  The difference in poverty levels provides lots of daily, visible cues that lead the average person to want to do something to help.  It might be a child begging on the street, or a pothole that seems as if it could swallow up a whole car.

The newcomer naturally creates many small, mental decisions to “get involved and make a difference.”  In the course of a few weeks, he/she has committed more actions than can be possibly taken.  The problem is that there is no way that they can possibly fulfill all these mental decisions to help.

Eventually, one learns to “pick one’s battles” and not to try to solve every problem.  (Some get burnt out when they don’t learn this important habit.)

To be sure, something similar happened when I moved from Jamaica to live in the U.S.  As a student at a huge college campus in upstate New York, I remember being amazed by how much there was to do.

Unfortunately,  those who tried to do and see everything didn’t graduate, as it was critical to learn to say no in order to take a reasonable number of classes, and to spend enough time studying to pass them.

In 2Time terms, the skill of revoking time demands after they are made is called “Tossing” and it’s one of the 11 fundamentals of time management.

Decisions to do something are revoked upon further reflection, at some future time.   Good ideas are thrown out.  Well-meaning intentions are eliminated.  Items are removed the calendar as time demands that were once a good idea are eliminated.

This is an essential step to maintaining peace of mind, and far superior to continuing to keep alive those small and large commitments that can create a sense of guilt if they are kept around for too long.