Identifying Priorities and
Giving me Firm Grounds to Say "No"
Several years ago, I read Cheryl Richardson's "Take Time for Your Life." One big take-a-way was her use of an Absolute Yes list. She encouraged me to list my top five priorities. If someone asks me to do something, I will say "no" to the request if it does not relate to my Absolute Yes list. You can say "no" gently, but you now have a good reason in your own mind for saying "no." You are standing in your power.
Some of the many blog posts describing the use of this list are here, here, and here.
I recently updated my list. I have posted it on a whiteboard in my office (not on a 3-by-5 index card as some suggest).
Here it is:
- Edit a collection of essays for a book entitled: "The Arab Gulf Crisis: Legal Consequences and Solutions."
- Finish the footnotes on an article about malpractice insurance for mediators.
- Complete a book review of "Troubled Waters: Insecurity in the Persian Gulf" by Mehran Kamrava.
- Finish a first draft of a book chapter on the causes of the blockade against Qatar.
- Finish the first draft of a book chapter on free press in the Arab Gulf.
- Stay open-hearted with my students.
- Support their professional growth.
- Community Service:
- Build a mediation community in Doha and the Arab Gulf.
- Nurture my expat friendships
- Fitness and health
- Swim 500 meters four times a week.
- Lift weights for 45 to 60 minutes four times a week.
This ambitious list of things I hope to accomplish over the next year requires time and focus. I have learned that, especially at QU, faculty members are expected to attend meetings, events, and conferences, often with less than a week's notice. By having my Absolute Yes list close at hand, I have found it easier to say "no" to these demands on my time. I want to focus instead on what business coach, Christine Kane, calls my "genius work."
I am also bombarded with requests that I fill out forms, most of which ask for the same information. I finally hired a personal assistant, at my own expense, to complete these time sinks. She is also helping me with the book project. In addition, I asked my housekeeper to come weekly so I feel that my home is "reset" for the coming week. I also redecorated my office to make it more functional. All of these changes provided more support for the projects on my list and reduced feelings of being overwhelmed by things I did not want to do.
By adhering to my list and building more support systems, I feel less resentful and more motivated. It's time to update my goals for the year.