Day 1 of 100: say no

Taylor Swift says no.

This is going well so far! Today I got up at 5ish, went for a run…I know this is an unsustainably good start, but my writing for the day is also done. Here it is. It is about ducks. It’s not very good, but the art of the six-word story is a tricky one to master – ReadWave are doing a 6-word story challenge and the most ‘liked’ story gets $100 (whatever that is in real money). No, that’s not cheating. I’m easing myself in!

Now for parts 4 and 5 of my daily commitment. I’m not following AYOP’s 100 hacks exactly in order, so I’m starting today with Time Hack 4: Say no to commitments that zap you of your time, energy, and attention.

Taylor Swift says no.

This was something I found very difficult when I was a student (and yes, I can see the joke you’re about to make, and no, you needn’t bother). There were two main reasons for this. The first was that, on the Students’ Union and in a variety of societies, I collected responsibilities. And job titles. And committee positions. There were entire Wednesdays I spent going from meeting to meeting – and this was as an actual student, not a short-lived sabbatical officer. If someone had held an election for the position of ‘Officer Responsible for Writing Grace’s Essays’, or tricked me into going to lectures by disguising them as Women’s Committee meetings, I might have a better degree right now.

The second reason was that, in my first term, a friend passed on some wisdom from her older sister: “In your first term of your first year, if you have to choose between your social life and studying, choose the social life.” It’s not the worst advice, especially if you did the same kind of low-contact-hours humanities degree I did – making friends at university is important, and it was difficult for a lot of us. But what’s more important is to remember the caveat In your first term of your first year, which I may not always have done.

I’m not nearly as bad now, in either respect, as I was back then: if someone asks me to do something I don’t have time to do, I will say no, rather than act as though time has magical properties of elasticity. But I had a think about what things I should start saying no to (again: no suggestions needed, ta), and the scenario that jumped out at me was this:

I’ve had a full day at work, and now I have lots of non-work stuff I need to get on with. On the bus home I make a long to-do list and realise I’ll have to work hard to get everything done. Then a friend will text me and ask if I fancy a drink, or a film, or a Breaking Bad marathon, and I’ll say “hell yes, that sounds like more fun” and everything on my to-do list will get put off for another day.

So that’s rule #1 for the next 100 days: say no to anything that will involve throwing my to-do list out of the window. I’ve had a look at my diary for the rest of the week: I already have commitments for tonight (a fun one), Wednesday (another fun one) and Thursday (a necessary one). I also had a floating ‘let’s go to the Cornerhouse sometime this week’ plan, so to avoid having to say no to that at short notice I’ve pinned it down to Tuesday. *firm nod*

Does that mean I can’t do anything spontaneous anymore? Maybe in the short term. But one thing I’m hoping for from this project is an end to mammoth to-do lists. It’d be great if I could get a text like that at 6pm and say “well, I just need to finish this one thing, then we’ll go and have fun”, or even “actually, I’ve got nothing that needs doing immediately. To the pub!”

Well, a girl can dream.

3 thoughts on “Day 1 of 100: say no

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