I'm pleased to share with you a powerful shift in emphasis and focus away from managing time and toward managing our commitments.
We cannot truly manage time… we all have the same amount of it, and it goes on and on, no matter what we do! We can, however, manage our commitments.
These practical guidelines set the stage for the predictable improvements in trust, productivity and emotional well-being that come about as a result of meaningful improvements in this area. We can improve both our leadership skills and our ability to make and keep healthy personal relationships by shifting our emphasis from managing time to managing commitments.
- Set a new context with others you work or live with. Publicly declare your desire to improve in promise making and promise managing.
- Enroll others to support you by giving you feedback.
- Be aware of the “web of commitments” you currently live in. Pay attention. Notice when you enter into new agreements, and when others enter into new agreements with you.
- Operate with a crystal-clear understanding of the difference between promises broken (in which case trust is an issue and a responsible complaint is in order) and silent expectations unmet (which are a totally different thing and have nothing at all to do with anybody else). There’s nothing wrong with expectations – as long as you hold them as personal expectations or private assumptions, and nothing more.
- Practice making clear and effective requests. Be a committed speaker; elicit a committed listener; specify exactly what you’d like accomplished and some criteria for your satisfaction; and provide a specific timeframe.
- Practice giving clear and effective responses to others’ requests of you. Avoid “maybe” and “I’ll try.” And make sure that in the end, others ultimately respond to your requests with one of the following: Yes, No, Commit-to-Commit or Counter-Offer.
- Practice declining. Learn how to say no with dignity. You have the right to decline others’ requests of you. To never say no is to not take responsibility for designing your own life. To never say no is to be continually overcommitted – and in many cases, increasingly resentful.
- Practice responsible complaints when others fall down on their commitments to you.
- Re-negotiate your commitments if necessary – and the earlier the better.
- Apologize if you fail to manage your commitments to others.
- Make and use a daily / weekly “to-do” list of actions you are committed to.