In the last edition, I shared a simple way to simplify your work day and your life: “Say ‘yes’ to having less.” It had to do with clearing clutter to help your flow of energy, thinking and creativity. As you simplify your things and the influx of information and your surroundings, you can be free to move forward with clearer vision and more decisive action.

Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to simplify your things and surroundings a bit and now you’re ready to say “yes” to doing less of the things that aren’t the best use of your time so you can make room for more of the things that are the best use of your time.

What kind of situations do you find yourself getting into that don’t serve you anymore? Are you overcommitted, overwhelmed and over-stretched? Are you tolerating something you shouldn’t anymore?

If so, why do you keep biting off more than you can chew? Your personal productivity and success depends on your being able to draw the line and say “no” when you can’t comfortably do something that someone else expects of you. OR when you expect yourself to do something more than you can realistically do. Sometimes it’s not an outside source putting the pressure on – it’s you!

My advice? Stop doing that.

No matter how stimulating it is to be busy, don’t forget that over-commitment can be stressful and unhealthy. If you struggle with getting things done throughout your days or weeks, it’s likely because you’re spreading yourself too thin. Deciding which responsibilities and invitations you’ll accept and which one you won’t will have a great impact on your day-to-day responsibilities and achievements.

Here are 4 steps to doing less:

1. Take a close look
Start by taking a really close look at where your time is going right now. Use a calendar – paper or electronic – to note exactly where your time is going. Use a planner that has ½ hour increments. What are you doing with all those hours in your week? Literally fill in every part of the planner with what you’ve been doing.

Track it for two weeks and then reflect on your activities and achievements. You’ll quickly see where you’re using your time for the best reasons and sometimes for the worst.

2. Time to cut it out
I think you’ll find room for cutting something out that’s pushing you over the edge. And don’t feel guilty about getting some time for yourself. “You’ve got to take care of you,” a friend told me more than a dozen years ago. And it’s true. If you don’t take care of yourself, then how will you take care of anyone or anything else in your life? It’s time to start letting go of activities that aren’t serving you, make room for others that will further your goals, and rearrange your time to best suit you and the results you seek.

3. Find your balance
Make sure your weeks are balanced with what you want. Not equally balanced by some math equation or by how others think you should balance your life, but by what you want to see and do in your time. Include anything that’s important to you in your life right now – family, friends, sleep, meals, work, play, quiet time, hobbies, exercise, etc…

4. Get support
Tell the people around you what you’re doing so you get their understanding and support. And when it’s time for you to say “no” – either to yourself or to others – stand firm in the purpose you’ve set for yourself. Remember, when you say “YES!” to something or someone important to you, it’s really easy to say “no” to everything else.

Author's Bio: 

Productivity Expert, Leslie Shreve has been teaching business owners, executives and entrepreneurs how to unleash the power of their most productive work day for more than 7 years. Leslie is the creator of Taskology™, which focuses on teaching simple, logical and easy-to-use strategies for managing tasks, time, e-mail, paper and more, plus how you can maximize Outlook to support your success.