Thursday, March 19, 2015

SOLC 2015 Day 19: Part 2 of 2--Yes means no

Yesterday, my post was about "filling your well", taking time to care for your needs so you have enough "oomph" to juggle all of life's demands.

So let's talk about those demands a bit, with the second theme that kept popping up in all the reading I've been doing on achieving balance in life.

Remember that when you say "yes" to something, you are saying "no" to something else.

I took a professional development course for librarians awhile back, and one of the mentors said that we should say "yes" as much as possible at work. This made perfect sense to me, as the library program is one of curricular support, there to serve the learning community. And I generally say "yes" to almost every request. Most of my "nos" come from schedule conflicts; the library is a busy place on my campus.

But lately, the second theme of yes and no has been popping up quite a bit in my inbox, on blogs, in books and articles I've read.  The authors may not always use the same wordage, but the message is the same:  What are you giving up when you obligate yourself, and is the trade-off worth it?  This litmus test of time management rings true with choices big and small, personal and job-related.

When you say yes to chairing that committee, are you saying no to more time with your spouse or children?

When you say yes to that extra piece of cake, are you saying no to that new dress in the closet?

When you say yes to that new program/ curriculum/ unit in your classroom, what will you have to give up to make room in the schedule for it?  (The powers that be really need to think about this, too...) 

There are no right or wrong answers, just a need to be aware of how we choose to spend our time, to think about what we value and whether or not our choices reflect those values.  In doing so, we may find that feelings of unhappiness or imbalance are due to obligations that conflict with what's important to us.  It also makes it harder to complain when we own the choices we've made.

Better choices I've made lately have been sleep over TV shows, regular dates with hubby over computer time, writing for the SOLC over meditation time, saying "yes" to piloting digital devices in the library over wanting one more year to settle into my new-ish career.

I'm still working on the chocolate cake vs. the new dress, the pull of online word games keeping me from exercising or tackling the paper pile on my desk.  And a nap often sounds better than dealing with another load of laundry or the insurance company.  At work, I need to say "yes" to the paperwork waiting in my office (my desk is a mess there, too), even if it means saying "no" to some time spent among the stacks with staff and students.

No matter how sparkly and big our superhero capes are, we all still have 24 hours in a day.  I'm working on saying "yes" to spending time on what matters most to me. 


  1. Hmmmm, an interesting take on balance. I used to struggle a lot with balance, being a working mom. I finally decided there is no such thing. Life is imbalanced.

    I'll have to continue thinking about your post. I hate to think that when I say "yes" to something work or writing-related that means I'm saying "no" to my kids! That's not a pleasant way to think about life at all!

    1. It isn't always pleasant, when we think about how we spend our time. If we're happy with how things are going, then the question really doesn't need to be asked. It's only if we feel the stirrings of change that we probably need to look at this more closely. Perhaps I should have made that more clear...