Managing Your Time: “If You Want Something Done…

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

I remember the first time I heard it. I agreed with it. Now, I refuse to let it be repeated!

The first time I heard it, I was rushing around trying to finish: the last minute details of the first Vegtoberfest festival; the opening of a new restaurant; and not completely bailing on my sister as she prepared for her wedding. I was a busy person. And, I was getting a lot of things done.  Remember, I’m the woman who #MakesThingsHappen!

That was four years ago. And, I was a busy person for the next 18 months. Then, something cracked. I realized that I wasn’t happy. I noticed that even though I #MakeThingsHappen, everything I was working on had pretty much stagnated – including my health. The worst of it was that I couldn’t remember why I was doing half of the projects I had signed up for. Yet, that saying kept circulating around me and people kept asking me to get things done.

Who actually thought that saying up?  Busy people are BUSY for a reason – why are you going to interrupt them from THEIR mission by adding to it? Because we assume they are the most resourceful? Because they finish what they started? Because they’re dedicated? Because you can count on them to get it done? Because they’re not-so-secretly martyrs and will always say “yes” when they should really prioritize instead?

Ah, there’s the rub. The saying needs to be changed:

“If you want something done, ask a martyr.”

That’s a little more honest. You can count on a martyr to get it done. A martyr is dedicated to a cause (and sometimes too many of them). A martyr will finish what they started…often to their own death or detriment. You will assume a martyr is the most resourceful, but often only because their dedication to a cause is so high. A martyr may even interrupt the dedication to their own cause to help you, because they recognize that you are just as resourceful. So…why aren’t you just getting it done? Because a martyr will do it for you if you just ask them to.

Are you a martyr? If so, you need to read the rest of this blog! If not, please do the martyrs in your life a favour: stop asking them for help…and send them this blog!  If you want a martyr’s input, ask them instead to help you with something. Use their passion to get your project done together, and be inspired by their actions.

I have seen far too many martyrs in my life. Whether in the activist scene, the holistic health community, or in the business world – dedicated people (a.k.a “martyrs”) are over-worked far too often for the passion they hold that they could be directing in to a much more productive outlet.

Why is this happening?  Every person has their reasons, but here are just three that come to my mind first:

  1. Martyrs are more compassionate and empathic than most other people.  Well, that pretty much defines every activist or “light worker” I have met. It takes a lot of empathy to understand that something in our world or business needs to change. Perhaps, we’ve struggled in a situation and now see someone else in the same situation. Aren’t we supposed to be the person we wished we had when we were younger?
  2. Martyrs are dedicated in seeing results, and will keep pushing until they do.  The proper definition of a martyr is someone who voluntarily dies for a (religious) cause. That is the level of dedication assigned to people who put themselves in to this predicament.  Ask yourself, “if you were given the choice of death or this project failing would you choose death?”
  3. Martyrs forget to take care of themselves as well as they take care of “To Do” lists and other people. Yes! This is the single biggest reason that busy people get turned into martyrs, burning out before they get anywhere close to accomplishing their own mission.

Do any of these happen to you? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!  And, you can stop this situation in its tracks. How?

First: start by saying “No!”

I had a boss that would be flabbergasted when I explained to him how much I had to do. He told me to tell me “no” if I couldn’t actually get something done for him. In his words, “if you never tell me no, then I can never trust your yes.”

(Ironically, he would always just keep asking me when I did tell him “no,” but I’m sure I will write more on that later…)

Second: Choose your limits

What is YOUR mission? Why are you here? How are you changing the world? Your limits are all about YOU and only you. Knowing what is most important for you will actually help you in saying “no” to the people and projects that don’t fit in to that criteria.

Third: Schedule “Me” Time

EVERY DAY! You’re dedicated to getting that task list done, so you’re going to be looking at your schedule, your task list, or your day planner at least once a week. Put “Me” down on every day! And, during that time, do something that YOU love to do. Maybe it’s vegging out to Netflix, or cooking an amazing seitan roast, taking a bubble bath, or reading a trashy romance novel. I know you won’t get to that time every day, but at least putting it out there will help you think about taking care of YOU for at least a fraction of the time that you take care of everything else out there.

Of course, these three steps are just the beginning. So start with them!  In the next few months, I’ll share more with you about how to find your core competencies, delegate what you’re not good at; and stay accountable to yourself before all others.  I know what it’s like to suffer as a not-so-secretly martyr, and I want to help others stop suffering through it, so we can all reach our ultimate missions and really #MakesThingsHappen.

For all the Busy People out there, thank you for #MakingThingsHappen. You have done a lot, and now I’d like you to reclaim some of that time for yourself and YOUR mission. That is my ONLY request of you!

For everybody else, STOP ASKING BUSY PEOPLE TO DO THINGS and get it done yourself!