The Absolute Yes List

Cheryl Richardson in her book Life Makeovers: 52 Practical and Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time asks you “when is the last time you stopped to consider where your time is being spent and how you feel about it?” “How long do you really work in a week?” “How much time do you spend caring for others?” “How much time is spent caring for yourself?”

She says that most people work an average of 55 hours per week once you factor in time at work, commuting, preparing for work and worrying about work. Add to that an average of 50 hours a week spent sleeping, your only left with 63 hours for parenting, shopping, cooking, cleaning, exercising, fun, friends, family, volunteering and so on.

One of the ways to take control of where you spend your time is to create what she calls an Absolute Yes List. This is a list of the top 5 priorities that need your attention for the next 3 – 6 months. Unlike goals or dreams the first place to focus your time and energy when building a strong foundation for your life is on those things that need your attention now.

This week create your own Absolute Yes List. Start by choosing a quiet afternoon or evening when you’ll have at least an hour of uninterrupted time to yourself. Have your journal handy and during this time get comfortable and relax. While in a relaxed state ask yourself the following 2 questions, giving yourself ample time for each one:

What needs your attention at this time in your life?

What do you need to let go of?

Don’t censor your answers, just notice what occurs to you as you ponder each of these questions separately and write the answers down in your journal. Consider the different areas of your life – relationships, family, community, work, emotional & physical health, finances and so on, make a note of those things that you know need your attention. When you’re finished choose the top 5 answers and put them in order of priority.  Next copy the list onto 3×5 inch index cards and label them “My Absolute Yes List”. Place these index cards in various places around your home and workplace. Keeping this list nearby will remind you of what really matters and will challenge you to say no to things that are not on the list.  The process of creating an Absolute Yes List should be repeated every 3 months so that you always have an updated list of your priorities Once you know your priorities challenge yourself to say no to at least two requests of your time everyday for the next week. Learning to say no with grace and love is a key way to protect your gift of time. If saying no is differcult for you remember the following 3 tips

  1. Your self-care is always a valid excuse
  2. You don’t need to over explain or defend your actions, just tell the simple truth
  3. Doing things out of guilt & obligation is not doing things out of love.

So that next time someone asks you to do something that you’d rather not do, simply smile and tell them you’re not available.



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