Just Say No“Just say no” isn’t only an 80’s anti-drugs campaign catchphrase; it’s a mantra to recite if you are the kind of person who overextends herself volunteering.
Yesterday Karen Potter blogged about making sure we live a balanced life that includes time to write. Consider my blog an addendum to hers. To live a balanced life, we sometimes have to say “no:” no to the dust bunnies proliferating under our beds; no to being room mother for our child’s homeroom; no to chatting on the phone during writing time; no to baking homemade cupcakes for the soccer team; no to heading a committee that will suck much of our writing time.
Keep It Steady
Visualize the balance Lady Justice holds. You’ve got to keep your obligations, especially volunteer ones, level—especially if you’re currently living a balanced life. In the past, I said “yes” to just about everyone who asked me to do anything. I wanted to make everyone happy. In doing so, I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t do justice to all the volunteer activities in which I was involved. If I was doing an adequate job with one activity, it was because I’d let another one go until I was super-stressed trying to catch up with what I’d let drop. To regain my sanity, I learned to say no, and that I wasn’t a bad person for saying it. Now, if I say “yes” to a new activity, I drop one of the old ones. I didn’t take on chairing the sewing committee for my daughter’s ballet company until I’d completed my term as an RWA chapter president. I keep the balance level.
Love It or Leave It
Make sure the time you spend volunteering is enjoyable. An added bonus would be if your volunteer job makes the most of your talents. I wouldn’t claim to be the best seamstress because I’m not, but I do know how to use a machine and follow a pattern. I love sewing and learning about costuming. I also enjoy organizing things, so chairing the NEAB Seam Team was a good fit for me. On occasion I write press releases for the ballet, which I also like because it exercises different writing muscles than fiction. If you’re not getting something beneficial out of the time you’re spending volunteering, why are you doing it?
How about you? What have you said “no” to recently to protect your writing time?