A Balanced Life May Mean Learning to Say “NO” Creatively

Sometimes getting organized and leading a balanced life is a lot easier said than done.  All of us have both personal and professional obligations that need to be done every day.   These obligations can get in the way of staying organized and balanced.  Something that can get in the way of leading that elusive balanced life is the inability to simply say “no”.  

I realize that we can’t say “no” to the boss, at least not too often.  But there are times in our lives that we say “yes” when we want to say “no”..   We often add to overloaded schedules jobs we just don’t have time for.  Things like chairing the PTA, coaching soccer, babysitting, pet sitting, and so on.  All of these things are worthy and useful jobs that should bring enjoyment and satisfaction.  But sadly, for many people,  just piles on more stress.  In turn, this creates an out of balance lifestyle. 

So what is the answer?  Learning to know when you are at your limit is the first step to heading off this kind of stress and imbalance.  For some that is easy, and the word “no”, just rolls off their lips.  But for many, they are well beyond the limit before they realize it and don’t know how to paddle back sanity and balance.  To learn your limits, take some time to assess what is already on your plate and really think about exactly when you started to feel out of control and out of balance.  Can you handle daily responsibilities of work and home life?  How many extra activities start to cause you to have to let things at home slide, or cut corners at work to get everything done.  

Once you determine your limits, begin to divest yourself of the extra activities that make your life so chaotic.  Be patient because sometimes it is a lot easier to take on duties than to get out of them.  If work is the problem, it may be more difficult, so your personal life may have to simplify extensively to be able to manage the stress and imbalance.  

Life balance is often discussed but rarely achieved completely.  But life is too short to live doing things just because you can’t say ‘no’.  A good way to combat this situation is to use the “good, better, best” test before we say ‘yes’  That is, measure every activity against your current goals.  Then ask, “is this activity a good, better or best activity to move me toward my goal accomplishment?” When you realize that, even though an opportunity will fit into your schedule it may not get you closer to your goals, declining an opportunity is much easier.

Since we all know there is an ‘App” for everything, I did find an application on iTunes that will help you say “no” a little easier.  I recommend this “tongue in cheek”, but I was interested to find that enough people have a problem saying no, that someone felt the need to create an app.  If you are interested it is called iNo and is probably perfect for you.  The app has over 1000 nice and not-so-nice ways to say “no” to just about anyone you can think of, even the boss.  For a mere 99 cents, you could be on the road to freedom!  

The Visual Learner…Color is Your Friend

Are you one of those people who has to see things in action to really understand how they work?  Are you imaginative and creative? Do you have many competing ideas and projects going on in your head at once? Do you find it difficult to stay organized because you find it hard to stay on one task for any length of time?  Is your workspace filled with many projects at various stages of completion?

You likely have a “visual work style” and you often ‘see’ items that stimulate new ideas and possibilities even in the middle of a completely unrelated project.  Thoughts and ideas constantly bombard your mind.  Solutions to problems or challenges come to you at random times during the day and night.  You are easily stimulated and can become frustrated and overwhelmed over time because you can get buried in clutter from your creative ideas.  

Your style does pose more challenges to getting and staying organizing, especially if you hire someone to just “get you organized”.  It is important for you to work with someone who is willing to work with you and coach you with ideas on how to manage life from day-to-day.   

One of the first things all visual people should develop is a color-coded system for staying organized.  You can start this by determining the types of categories or groupings that you work with throughout your day.  If staying on top of projects is a problem, perhaps you create a red folder for tasks due immediately, a green folder for items of less urgency and yellow for items that are good ideas, but not urgent needs.  Whatever you need to organize, if you have a visual work style, you are going to associate colors much easier than words. 

Since ideas often come to you randomly, it is a good idea to always have some way to record ideas to be accessed later.  If you have a smartphone you can just use the recording feature and record them for future reference.  That way you can reduce the distraction of those random thoughts.  

I also recommend that visuals never file their work where they can’t see it.  Utilize desktop filing systems and open filing cabinets to ensure that you don’t “lose” things.  

I have never met a visual who does not wake up in the middle of the night with solutions to problems or ideas for new projects.  To ensure that you properly record these “eureka moments”, keep a pen and paper on your nightstand and write them down before going back to sleep.