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Know Yourself Part 3(?) aka “Reclaiming My Time”

Shoutout to my home-people for inspiring this blog post today. It will hopefully be a quickie, as I will mainly just copy and paste what I wrote in Voxer, with a couple of tweaks here and there. Again, I’m not self-editing for style. Four day workweeks = need to get to work early = “ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Yesterday, a friend tagged me with a great post on Twitter that he found on Forbes. Today, another friend dropped it into a group that began in the last round of Edcamp Voice (site is down as we move to WordPress, but it should be back up soon) about Educational Consulting.

The title of the article is “3 Ways to Respond to People Who Ask for Free Services.” I thought it was a cool read. I’m not currently selling my services for money, with some exceptions (public speaking, contract work, adjunct teaching, etc.); however, if you think about it, many of us are selling, whether it be via legal tender and/or social capital. I subscribe to the latter.

I’ve heard Justin Schleider say that time is the only nonrenewable resource, and I agree. The article had some definite takeaways for me, reminding me of things I’ve learned along the way. While the author describes things from a monetary perspective, I’m looking at it through the lens of my own currency.

Here is a quick reflection on the article in comparison to my own experiences.

I love learning and growing with my colleagues around the world. Sometimes, people have asked me to show them how to do something specific. While I greatly enjoy doing so, lately I find my time more and more limited. Thus, here are some tips/tricks I have learned to help me with this:

  1. Make a video. Record a video for the person and post it on YouTube or your website so that other people may also use it. Or, if the person wants 1:1 coaching, ask them to join you in a YouTube Live video.
  2. Make a tutorial. Lately, somebody put me onto the iorad tutorial builder Chrome Extension. If you make lots of tutorials, you don’t want to miss this.
  3. Blog about it.
  4. Etc.
  5. Etc.
  6. Etc.

I’ve learned to do these things, and if the question comes up from someone else, direct him/her to the resource you’ve created. Again, this is if you have the time.

Looking at this through the lens of social capital, the concept of “entry-level packages” does not apply. However, my takeaway from this point is to be comfortable with saying “no.” Sometimes you won’t be able to do all of the things with all of the people. It’s ironic that “no” is one of the shortest words in the English language, yet so hard for many of us to say.

I like the way this author had a graceful way of saying, “no,” phrasing it as a “not right now.” If this is truly the case, it is okay to say that you’d love to do _________, but it’s a bad time for you. I remember being so uncomfortable with the “no” until it became a necessity: when I was up against the clock for my dissertation defense. I had invested 10+years and a ridiculous amount of money, and it was all at stake. At that time, I had to take just about everything off my plate, unless it addressed some immediate need. Sometimes you have to be, as a recent guest on Dr. Will’s show eloquently stated, “self-ish.”

So, say no if you have to. Just don’t be a jerk about it :)

Point three is the only one where I differ in opinion from the author of the article, who suggests sending an email to the other party, having them reschedule using your calendar. While I do use Calendly, know that emergencies happen, and am totally cool with having people reschedule, if you ghost me once, why would I make it easy for you to ghost me twice?

Yes, I will send an email while I’m sitting there being ghosted, to confirm I’m indeed being ghosted. But barring an emergency or explanation, I’ll probably assume that the other person isn’t interested and/or serious.

Note: I’m not perfect, myself…not trying to sound holier-than-thou. Lately, I have been flakier than usual, but I always try to let folks know ahead of time if I have to cancel, or at least let them know in advance that I’m a “maybe.”

(Enter copy-and-paste from Voxer rant, with very minor editing for clarity. Also because I’m now 10 min past the time I said I’d stop writing lol.)

Maybe I differ from the author because my convos center around collab and not sales, maybe because I am introverted lol. Idk. But I try to avoid phone calls, video calls, etc. whenever possible in favor of tools like Voxer.

I had to quit most synchronous communication cold turkey because it was taking over my life. When I came home from work, it was call after call after call and most of those led to dead ends. I was scheduling life around these calls, not the other way around.

Now I only schedule calls for usually one of 4 reasons:

  1. Podcast interviews (note: I have slowed down on these as well),
  2. Synchronous conversation is the best way to communicate for what we are doing (i.e. collaborating on a project that we are working on in real time),
  3. I have some kind of financial interest at stake (translation: you are paying me or I am paying you), OR
  4. The other person is close to me AND I believe they are serious about the project (notice the Boolean).

Outside of those four, I am unlikely to do synchronous calls, especially for initial contact.

Hopefully I don’t sound like a huge jerk lol. But I feel like everyone has to have their own workflow that optimizes their performance. It will look different for everyone based on your personality and needs. Of course occasionally you might have to step outside of it but parameters are not a bad thing :)

Ok, gotta jet. Peace out and thanks for reading.



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Sarah Thomas, PhD

Educator/Regional Tech Coordinator. Passionate about using social media to connect w/ educators around the world. We all have a story. What's yours? #EduMatch