It’s Time To Stop Negotiating When You’re Available

One of the biggest mistakes I have seen community leaders and business owners make is the idea that they are “always available.” This is particularly true for those of us who volunteer or are in the service industry like coaching, mentoring, graphic and web design.

As volunteers we have this crazy idea that any down time we have is fair game to fill with more “meaningful pursuits.” As business owners we get caught up in the idea that we are free to set our own hours and work when we want to and start feeling obligated to accommodate everyone.

If we are not careful, our lives soon become filled with Energy Vampires, who put incredibly unrealistic demands upon our time. Before we know it, we are scheduled at all hours of the day and night. And on our way to serious burn out.

You are the Master of your time and calendar!

One thing it is important to do is declare right now that you are the master of your calendar. And if we were in a mentoring session right now I would have you shout it out loud! Because when we are always available, we start making sacrifices. We begin compromising what is truly important to us, and soon find our personal, community and professional lives out of balance. I don’t want this to happen to you, so go ahead and shout it out … I AM THE MASTER OF MY CALENDAR!

Now that we have that out of the way take a little time to  determine what days each week you are available as a community leader and volunteer. This may vary from one week to the next, and that’s okay. Just make sure that you give yourself at least one night off from everything each week. This includes taking the night off from laundry, organizing, and other busy work tasks!

As a business owner avoid setting an hour range such as 40 hours a week. Instead, make a point to set specific hours, like Monday through Friday 10 am to 5 pm. Plan your flexibility by scheduling make up time if you ever need to cut into your business hours or your personal hours.

Protect your Nights and Weekend! 

Are you available nights and weekends? As a community leader and volunteer this is mostly likely when you will be needed, and as a business owner this may be necessary for you. But this doesn’t mean you have to be available every night and throughout the entire weekend.

To avoid the life sucking drain of the energy vampires, be VERY clear on when you are available. Make a point to consider time for family, friends and yourself before you make agree to anything. Also take the time to discuss your decision with close family and friends who may be impacted by your schedule. This can help you avoid any struggles and resentment in the future when you are putting in extra hours.

Say no to exceptions!

There are always going to be people who want us to make an “exception” for them. Being the giving accommodating and kind person you are, it is likely that you want to say yes. But saying yes, is the first step in compromising what is important to you. This will soon lead to making sacrifices you truly don’t want to make.

Stay firm and remember that you never have to explain why you aren’t available. Simply stating that you are not available is enough.