5 Time Management Tips to Keep Other People’s Problems from Becoming Your “To-Do” List

creative commons

creative commons

I once was a zoo keeper. It was more of a primate sanctuary actually.

My days were filled with feeding, watering and cleaning after monkeys that were dropped off by eager donors.

In The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey, author Ken Blanchard uses monkeys as an analogy for “the next move” in projects or problems that needs solved.

Most people with a problem OR a monkey would love it if you would take responsibility for their “pet”.

You probably care at least a little for all of the monkeys that come your way. In fact, the donor probably cares about the monkey too…they just don’t like the responsibility of “the next step”.

As you take on more and more monkeys, you’ll get a reputation as a pretty good monkey-sitter. More monkeys will come your way.

Sounds a little like a death spiral, right? It’s definitely not the best step for achieving the (un)busy good life that we’re after.

If you’re crying a little inside after reading this, there is hope.

Here’s how to break the cycle:
1. Read the book. I’m on my third well-worn copy because I keep handing them off to other weary monkey sitters. You can find it on Amazon here.
2. Learn how to say “No”. Or at least “Not Right Now”. This one is hard (but necessary) for my people pleasing brothers and sisters.
3. Know when to say “Yes”. Sometimes the best person to handle the next step really is you. Take TEMPORARY ownership of that monkey.
4. Keep a list. If you don’t track your monkeys, you’ll forget to feed one. Read my post Five Tips on How to Pray Specific to learn about a great app for keeping lists.
5. Be proactive. You’re goal each day is to feed the hungriest monkey and then find his new owner.

I retired from the monkey business. I now care only for those monkeys that truly belong to me and spend my spare time on meaningful work (like this blog).

There is hope.

Question: How many monkeys are you caring for right now and what steps can you take to give them a new home?

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