Just Say No?
When I stopped working full time for a salary I promised I’d give back to my community in my spare time since I figured I’d have more spare time because I wouldn’t be working full time. I may have been a bit naïve.
My desk is a mess. The floor around my desk is piled with stuff, stuff that needs to be done today and stuff that needs to be done tomorrow. My in-box is overflowing and the desk next to my desk is piled with stuff that needs to be done. I even have a briefcase stuffed under my desk with two pending projects in it. It seems like as soon as I move one project out another takes its place. Triage! I’m a community volunteer and I need triage!
I am a hospital emergency room clerk. I watch the ambulance come screaming to the entrance (a friend or acquaintance who needs assistance) and watch the doors to the emergency room flip open as the patient (project they want to hand off to someone, anyone) is whisked into the building on a stretcher, barely clinging to life (When do you need it?!). I check the patient (project) in and take his vital signs (Who needs it? When do they need it? How might I give them the results they expect?). Next I move the patient to a room (in-box, main desk top, side desk, or file) based on how loud his screams for attention are. As the ambulance (friend or acquaintance) pulls away from the curb, satisfied (happy) someone will help their patient (project) I am left with a new pile on my desk.
For years, my best friend Ginger watched me, watched the projects come and go and shook her head ever so slightly. And then she gave me a gift, one with three simple words stamped on it, that she hoped would help remind me that life is about balance, not about taking on every project that shows up at my door; I pinned the gift to my bulletin board as a reminder.
And I have to admit that I say ‘yes’ far less frequently than I used to; however, my desk is still a mess.