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I've said that 'no' is the most powerful word in your vocabulary when it comes to focus. Many people don't have a challenge with saying no to others, but they have a significant challenge saying no to themselves. I see this occur most often in entrepreneurs, or in people who are in highly creative fields. They have many ideas that compete for their attention, but instead of saying no to some of these ideas, they put them all on their calendar and end up spreading themselves, and their available resources, very, very thin.
I would like to help you gains some skill in the art of saying no to yourself and saying it actively. The easiest way to say no to yourself is to create what I call a Perhaps List. A Perhaps List is filled with ideas innovations, things that you might want to do someday, but haven't made the commitment yet to do them. When an idea comes into your head, if you're not fully committed to it, put it on the Perhaps List.
This will allow you to consider it later on without tying up valuable resources needed to focus on the commitments you've already made. Set a recurring appointment for yourself to review this Perhaps List, usually once a month to once every three months. Then as you review the Perhaps List, you can take a moment and decide whether or not you want to take action on that idea at that time, delete it, or leave it on the list for future review.
The principle of 'when' also applies to saying no to yourself, meaning when are you going to do it? Ask yourself, when a new idea comes into your head, do I need to do this now or can I do it later? As long as you are using your calendar properly as a time budget, procrastination can actually be your friend. Procrastination can help you, because you're still going to complete those ideas, but do so by putting them into the calendar further into the future.
So if you do need to add something new to your calendar--a new project, a new idea, a new initiative--ask yourself, when is the latest that I can complete this? Then put it into your calendar to begin working on it as late as possible. This will allow you to focus on the tasks at hand and not get distracted by every idea that pops into your head. By learning the skill of actively saying no to yourself, you won't be stretched so thin.
You'll be able to better focus and complete the projects that you already have on your plate and seeing more success by bringing projects to full completion before switching your attention.
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