I recently learned of a writing/poetry blog I really like, Book of Kells. Kelli has a post about productivity that I found especially relevent to me and to many of my friends, who are trying to accomplish much--and succeeding, though sometimes at the price of their happiness and sanity.
The post talks about a writer called Edmund Wilson, a very influential book critic in the 1920s. Here's how he dealt with being asked to do too many things: One, he didn't worry about trying to please everyone, which of course is impossible and only distracts you from the things that are important to YOU. And two, he used the following form letters to decline requests:
Edmund Wilson regrets that it is impossible for him without compensation to:
contribute to books or periodicals
do editorial work
judge literary contests
make after-dinner speeches
Under any circumstances to:
contribute to or take part in symposiums
take part in chain-poems or other collective compositions
contribute manuscripts for sales
donate copies of his books to libraries
autograph books for strangers
supply personal information about himself
supply photographs of himself
allow his name to be used on letter-heads
receive unknown persons who have no apparent business with him.
Pretty awesome, no? What would your list look like, if you had the balls to hand it out?
My list of things I won't do would include:
Stop to hear your schpeel/sign your petition when I am exiting the grocery store
Plan office parties/buy going away presents even if it means that no one else is going to think to do it
Say yes to social engagements that I am not 100% excited about going to. (This already feels impossible, even in my imaginary life. I will ammend to say: "Say yes to social engagements that I am not 100% excited about unless the guilt regarding saying no feels too great." God I'm weak.)
Feel the need to keep friendships going when they don't seem to be nourishing either party
If I could implement these things, I bet my life would feel much more balanced, especially in terms of getting to spend time with the people who really do nourish my soul. At the moment I seem to have many many more friends who I see every few months, than friends I get to see on a regular basis, as often and as much as I would like to.
That said, my priority at the moment is my writing, so some of that is my own doing. (Well, actually, my priority at this very moment is getting over this awful, awful cold, which has pretty much floored me.)
Looking forward to seeing your list!