Calendars — we love them when the prompts remind us of commitments we may have forgotten, but we dread them when they show us how overbooked we are. As my own schedule became overrun in February, I started to have a very serious internal conversation with myself. Every board on which I volunteer seemed to need more attention than I could give while the work of writing speeches, crafting compelling workforce and leadership training proposals and recruiting facilitators for my business remained. Something had to give, and I knew what it couldn’t be.
Some of yesterday’s “yeses” had to become tomorrow’s “nos.” As a recovering workaholic, this shift in thinking takes effort. However, COVID left me with a transformed perspective. My precious waking hours, expressed in colorful blocks on my calendar, reflected not only how I spent my life, but what and whom I value. With that in mind, I resolved that I couldn’t push aside non-work moments like family game nights, invites to watch the Mardi Gras parade, unscheduled meetups at T.J. Maxx with my mom or unexpected morning calls from my dad, bonus mom or father-in-law.
SOMETIMES, JUST SAY “NO”
“No” can be hard to say, particularly to a great cause or organization, but this simple word may be the best answer when we can’t fully contribute to the mission. The seat that we don’t fill won’t be empty; it simply will become available to someone who has the bandwidth to sit there. We could always offer to volunteer in a way that works for us.
BALANCE YOUR CALENDAR
While dancing the cha-cha slide recently at the American Advertising Federation Mississippi Gulf Coast Awards, I discovered a significant oversight. Through my laughter and wanton silliness with my colleagues donning 80s- and 90s-style garb, I realized that fun was missing from my calendar. I attend numerous events each month that apparently aren’t filling that need. Professional networking events serve their purpose. They allow us to stay connected, discuss our businesses and contribute to the community. They are often pleasant, but not necessarily fun.
In balancing my 2023 calendar, I added daily workouts and meditation time, but I neglected “fun with friends.” Those appointments are random and sporadic, but fun should be just as intentional as work.
I had to ask myself a question: Is what’s on my calendar life-giving and purposeful? What about yours?