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Eileen McClelland

To Save Your Time, Pretend You’re Two

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Let’s be clear. I do not have, nor do I ever expect to have a “4-Hour Workweek.” Fortunately, I’m one of the lucky ones: I do enjoy my job, and I like doing it no matter how long it may take. And because I work at home most of the time — interrupted by all manner of New Orleans street noise (including 4 a.m. garbage trucks, brass bands, tow trucks, and drunken revelry) along with the more mundane laundry issues and dog-walking — hours may vary and work seems to expand to fill all the minutes till midnight!

Still, pulling together tips for INSTORE’s February BIG STORY on how to steal minutes from a day, I ran across what seems like good advice — this week at least, when I happen to be feeling overwhelmed and time-crunched and edgy — from Timothy Ferris, who wrote the “The 4-Hour Workweek.” Just the thought of assembling our quirkily troublesome holiday tree in the next couple of weeks brings on a migraine, for example. (Year after year this wily, uncooperative collection of artificial greenery manages to outwit us by concealing one of its lighting outlets, turning what should be a 20-minute project into an hours-long ordeal.)

I don’t buy into the 4-Hour Workweek as realistic for everyone — let alone harried retail business owners heading into holiday overdrive (I won’t insult you with the notion that you can grow your business while lounging on the beach year round and phoning it in) — but I do think the author offers some solid advice for stamping out stress and overwork.

One of his ideas, which we should probably start working on now before the holidays overtake us, is to learn to say “no.”

To begin with, just say “no” to everything for two days, just to get a feel for what may be a new behavior.

Here it is:

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Pretend you’re 2. Just Say No. "For the next two days, do as all good 2-year-olds do and say "no" to all requests," suggests Timothy Ferriss in "The 4-Hour Workweek." "Don’t be selective. Refuse to do all things that won’t get you immediately fired." In this case, the exercise is designed not only to eliminate things that waste time, but to get comfortable with saying "No.”

"Potential questions to decline include the following: Do you have a minute? Want to see a movie tonight? Can you help me with X?”

"No" should be your default answer to all requests. Don’t make up elaborate lies or you’ll get called on them. A simple answer such as, "I really can’t – sorry; I’ve got too much on my plate right now" will do as a catch-all response.”

The idea is that once you’ve practiced saying “no” to everything that monopolizes your time, you will be better equipped to pick and choose what really is a waste of time.

Here are a couple more tips from “The 4-Hour Workweek."

Limit Meetings, which should only be held to make decisions about a predefined situation – not to define the problem. If someone proposes that you meet with them, or set a time to talk on the phone, ask the person to send you an email with an agenda to define the purpose. Nine times out of 10 you’ll find a meeting is unnecessary and you can resolve the situation or answer the questions via email. (Unless, of course it’s a customer!)

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Propose Solutions. Stop asking for opinions and start proposing solutions. Begin with the small things. If someone asks, "Where should we eat?" or "What movie should we watch?" or anything similar, do NOT reflect back with "Well, what do you want to do?" Offer a solution. Stop the back and forth and make a decision. Practice this in both personal and professional environments. Say, "I’d like to propose…"

Practice the art of Non-Finishing. "Starting something doesn’t automatically justify finishing it. If you are reading an article that sucks, put it down and don’t pick it back up. If you go to a movie and it’s worse than "The Matrix Revolutions," get the hell out of there before more neurons die. More is not better, and stopping something is often 10 times better than finishing it."

OK, well, finished or not, this blog is ending here…..

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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