When I was growing up there was an ad for ketchup featuring a song by Carly Simon (Anticipation). The tag line — “…anticipation is making it wait!” — reminds me of the classic marshmallow study looking at the impact of delayed gratification (resisting a small reward for a greater one later on).
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because so much of the stress we can experience comes from having to meet other people’s expectation and demands. Now there are times when you need to respond immediately (child is fishing in the toilet, cat is swinging wildly from drapes, the computer ate your project and so on), but many times, you don’t have to.
Whose agenda are you prioritizing? A colleague gave me a very wise piece of advice years ago. She was teaching a workshop and asked how many of us checked our email first thing in the morning? Almost all of us there raised our hands. What would happen if we waited until 10 am to check? or 11am? Not much we concluded. If it was a real emergency, then we would likely get a call. Looking at my own behaviour, I realized the plan I made at the end of the day before, was frequently delayed in favour of responding to someone else’s agenda.
Put yourself first. So today, when you get that request, think about it carefully. If saying yes means your time will be derailed, delay your response. Takeing control of your time, even in five minute or half hour chunks can make a huge difference.