One of the videos I've watched was an inspiring commencement speech by Neil Gaiman University of the Arts Class. He shared his experience as a writer and a freelancer. Though it was a speech of personal success, a motivation to use the creative mind, he mentioned something about responding to emails, which is certainly something we can personally relate to. Gaiman said: " There was a day when I looked up and realised that I had become someone who professionally replied to email, and who wrote as a hobby. I started answering fewer emails, and was relieved to find I was writing much more."
Reading and answering emails, especially when it's not generating us revenue and it's not making us productive is not a task that we want to spend our day. Unless, we are in a business of, well, answering emails.
We need to say NO to certain things, at times people, so we can give more time and attention to what's essential. The late Randy Pausch, who conducted a great lecture about time-management, identified the telephone as one of the time-wasters. His advice was to keep the calls short and to maximize the use of voice mails. Cutting phone calls short can be difficult to many of us, so hanging up the phone while your still talking will do the trick. The other person on the line will think that the call was disconnected. That's pretty smart but awful too, don't you think? It kind of hurt me because I used to do some cold-calling in the past and I know how it felt when somebody hangs up on me.
Time-wasters, as Pausch mentioned, could be people at the office who wanted to chit-chat but, sometimes, it could be people asking for your help or favor. While we remain courteous at all times, we also need to be straight-forward.
So you see, we really don't have to say YES to things presented to us especially when it means sacrificing the most essential tasks we need to do. Let us be reminded of the 80-20 rule or the rule of the vital few that states "for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes." If we list the tasks and activities we have to do for the day, only 20% of which has major impact. So, let us be cautious on how we use our time because it's a resource we can never take it back.