#50: Time in Perspective: Saying No Using Agile

Welcome back to our series on keeping time in perspective.  Last week I introduced the process of using Agile in your coaching business to make the most of your time but also to keep the time you have in perspective rather than overloading yourself.  We focused on what you are saying yes to last week.  Now we are going to shift gears and think about saying no so that we continue our theme of simplicity, clarity, and vision in 2022.


Here we are.  As I mentioned, last week was all about saying yes, but in a way that respects the time that you have and keep it in perspective.  Instead of overloading your task list, you make use of a backlog, then methodically and intentionally move items to your sprint then on to your in-progress list and ultimately crossing the finish line and putting your tasks in the done category.  Perhaps you even do a victory dance like we do in our home.

I shared that although I don’t use Agile following the exact tenets of the process, I’m hoping to get there as I work through my backlog of work and ultimately get ahead.  Chances are, you were thinking that sounds nice and on the other hand you were thinking that it sounded impossible.  Your backlog was just too long.  In preparation for today’s episode, I took a moment to see how many items are on my backlog of this recording in early January.  There are a whopping 70 items, all at least 4 steps each on my backlog.  This doesn’t count the items on this sprint, but I’m confident that I can accomplish all of these tasks in 2022.

One reason is because I’m saying “no” more often.  Are you ready to hear more about that?

Saying No and the Backlog

At the end of 2021, you explored the pillars where you would like to focus for 2022. These pillars were aligned with your mindful vision and will help you immensely here. So if you have those pillars, go ahead and pull them out. If you don’t, you might go back to the end of our 2021 season.

Take a listen to those episodes. Again, there episodes 45 through 48, but I think you’ll find episode 45 and 46, the most helpful here. So you have your pillars, you have them in front of you. And what I’d like to do today is share a trick that I discovered as I was creating my backlog. I crafted my pillars. I knew where I wanted to spend my time and attention focus my energies in 2022 so that I could make more progress on my mindful vision for my coaching business.

This is what many coaches hope for. They want to make progress in their mindful vision. And so when I looked at that backlog, I was very intentional. In fact, last week I shared with you that I have my backlog divided into different categories. What I didn’t tell you is that I divided them by pillar that I wanted to focus on.

And so what you have here is you have a backlog and you have your list, right? You can look at it, maybe you categorized it just based on similarities. That’s a great place to start. What you can do now is take a look at your pillars, see how they align with those different categories within your backlog. Maybe it’s a perfect one-to-one match.

That’s amazing if that happened, that means those pillars are really at the forefront of your mind and of your attention, but chances are, they are not 100% aligned mine weren’t at first, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be. So take a look at your categories in your backlog. If you did not categorize everything, just look at your whole backlog list.

And as you go through your backlog, identify which pillar each of those backlog items will align with. If you get to an item that does not align with the pillar or one of your pillars, then maybe it doesn’t belong on your backlog list for 2022. Maybe it’s something that you should say no to right now, after all your pillars are designed to help you make progress in your vision.

And if the item isn’t aligned with the pillars that you’d like to focus on for the year, this might not be the right time. In fact saying yes to an item that’s not aligned with one of your pillars can draw your time and attention away from the important tasks that will help you fulfill those detailed pillars. Now, what happens if you identify an item that does not align with your pillars, 

you could just hit, delete or erase. But if that makes you a little antsy, like it does me, you could create an extra list off to the side somewhere and just label it ideas. Overflow. What do you think about that idea or ideas overflow. These are the items that don’t currently align with a pillar that you’d like to focus on for this year.

It doesn’t mean they’re not good ideas though, right? Maybe it’s something that’s really intriguing, really important, but it’s not for right now. Maybe it’s down the road a little bit. And so putting that task or that item on your idea’s overflow list, it preserves it. You don’t have to waste mental energy. Trying to remember it. It’s still captured in a place where you can go back and look at it later on.

Especially if you get through your entire backlog for the year and you still have time go to that ideas overflow the idea here, not to be confused with your ideas overflow. The idea here is to say no more often, the idea is to be intentional in what you’re saying yes to, we have to keep time in perspective. We have a finite amount of it.

And as a business owner, as a coach, you may have five hours a week in which to work. You may have 40 hours a week in which to work, regardless of where you are on that spectrum. Maybe it’s even less than five hours. Maybe it’s more than 40 hours, regardless of where you are on that spectrum. It’s still a finite amount of time that you would like to devote to your business or are able to devote to your business.

So you have to keep the amount of time you have in perspective. If you’re able to move items to the idea, overflow, you’re keeping time and perspective, you are saying yes to only the things that will move you forward in an intentional way. Right now you chose those pillars with thought, with intention and with clarity, you wanted to keep things simple so that you could gain momentum, make progress. And this is your opportunity to continue that momentum by saying no, no, no doesn’t mean no forever. It means no. Right now it means no for this moment. Doesn’t mean you have to erase it or delete it doesn’t mean you have to forget about it. It doesn’t mean that you are assigning value to this. 

All you are doing right now and saying no, is that it does not fit your current pillars in this moment. There you have it say, no. If doesn’t align with your pillar or pillars, that will help you move in the direction of your mindful vision. Say no. And by having your agile backlog right at your fingertips, this becomes so much easier. Instead of wondering what should I do?

What is on my list? You already have this, you created your agile backlog of items to complete. Now you’re just sifting through it. Kind of like when you sift flour, when you’re ready to bake, you want to get the lumps out. This is you taking the lumps of flour that are never going to break down or the lumps in the powdered sugar or whatever it is.

You’re sifting. This is you removing those lumps and saying, it’s good flour, but not right now, not for this exact project, right? There’s nothing wrong with the flower that has the lump, but it’s not what you want in your baked. Good. Right now, you’ll find another use for that lump of flour. Maybe you’ll crush it up,

break it up and use it later. But right now you can relegate it to our list from before. The idea is overflowing. There’s nothing wrong with that. But in our society, especially at the start of a year where we’re excited, we’re ready to go. We have a tendency to say yes. And here I am two weeks into January saying, “say no, say no”.  Here’s why you want to keep things simple. You want to stay focused. Now is the time.

There you have it.  In this episode we talked about using Agile as a way to say no to the things that don’t matter right now.  This will leave more time for the things that do, thus keeping your time in perspective.  By organizing your backlog with your main pillars in mind you will find more simplicity, clarity, and the opportunity to stay true to your Mindful Vision with each passing day.  

Next week we are going to talk about choosing the opportunities that are right for you and your business.  Doing the work we have talked about over the past two episodes will better prepare you for this upcoming episode and for the possibilities that 2022 will bring your way.

Tip for the Week

To help you stay on track this week lets end with a simple task to keep you focused.  Go back to the backlog list you created in Episode 49 and look at your categories.  See if you can align these with your main pillars of focus for the year.  If not, can you rearrange them?  If you have tasks or whole categories that just don’t fit, consider moving them to an idea or overflow list of tasks.  This allows you to say no, but you can still remind yourself later on of the ideas should they fit your next steps a little better.

I look forward to seeing you back here next week for another episode of the Coaching Hive Podcast where a focus on mentoring and community removes the overwhelm of building your successful coaching business and adds in a dose of momentum.

Until next time, have a healthy, safe, and happy week!

~ Dr. Moira

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