Are you experiencing unrelenting pressure in terms of demands on your time?

Has your own success become your worst enemy?

I’ve recently been providing a lot of one to one executive coaching to a number of Senior Professionals and a reoccurring theme is the struggle of how best to cope with others expectations on their time!

The difficulty with this for many of the Senior Professionals that I coach is that a tipping point arrives where it is no longer possible to say ‘yes’ to every request. Demands on time are too great and their attention becomes fragmented.

Inevitably they find themselves through necessity turning down request after request but doing so in a haphazard way without thinking about it strategically. What is the opportunity cost and how can this be avoided?

The familiar pattern is that of somebody ambitious starting out on their career perhaps in a large corporate environment of maybe running their own business. Saying ‘yes’ to every request out of a fear that they will miss an opportunity and of course they are keen to establish and maintain positive relationships.

This initially works well. Their career takes off, business is good and over time through effective networking an ecosystem for success is created.

However, as they become more and more successful the old ways become impractical. It becomes impossible to accept each and every request so they find themselves incrementally declining offers more and more as time goes by.

                                Rate of saying ‘No’

So the question then arises for those that are successful,  ‘which requests I should accept and which should I say no to’?

So here, I would like to share with you the four key steps to help you:

  1. Define what success means to you. Be as specific as possible. What is it that you want to achieve?
  2. Audit your time. Your greatest asset is your time so use it wisely. What 80% of your time do you receive the best return on investment (ROI) on? You might assess this in terms of financial reward, health outcomes, personal/professional relationships, new product development, etc. However, it is essential when considering your time to link it back to how you specifically define success (see point 1).
  3. Create an attention diet. What you pay attention to becomes your reality, so that 20% of your time that you receive the lowest ROI needs to be eliminated from your routine and replaced with a new alternative. It is here that you will assess those requests being made of you and accept only those that you can firstly accommodate within the 20% of your time and secondly, those that you believe link with your definition of success resulting in the greatest ROI.
  4. Review your time vs ROI frequently. It is essential that you ‘check in’ and review how things are going by going through each of these four steps quarterly.

Joe McDonald is Founder of create10 providing one to one executive coaching and impactful workshops on leadership, team performance and innovation creation. Flexible online course options available too.  See for options.