One of my cardinal sins is the inability to say "no" when managers have asked me to take on additional tasks and responsibilities. One of the many things that I learned in my youth was that the only way to move up in an organization is to work hard and kiss ass1. While my lips are not quite stained brown, I certainly have the first part down pat. Unfortunately, this means saying "yes" way too often to too many people. So, taking some of Merlin Mann's advice to heart, I've started pushing back and saying "no". I've also stopped using indirect, ambiguous language when trying to gently reject ideas. How has it turned out? Not too bad, I think.
By outright rejecting some requests I've managed to free up about 30 minutes a day to actually have a break during break time at the office. There is still a lot of break time left to claw back, but this shouldn't be too difficult in the coming months. I've also managed to build a better relationship with the people I work with as there are no longer a weight hanging over my head as a number of little tasks are forever past due. This will have to continue.
By saying "no" to some client requests I've also managed to keep projects on schedule and deliver on or ahead of schedule. Dropping the super-polite indirect language has also made it much, much easier for us to understand each other. This doesn't mean that I'm being unreasonable or a jerk to paying customers, though. It just means that I'm not promising to do things that I cannot realistically complete with all the other tasks that are going on at any given point during the week.
When it comes to time management and expectations, I really need to fix the messes that I've created while trying to do too many things with too few resources. Reclaiming some of my most precious commodity, time, will allow for more breathing space to get work done and lead a healthy lifestyle.
This is the idea, anyways.