Part of the reason we feel busy is because our calendars only reflect a small portion of the workload. I may feel that I have time for that one-hour meeting, but when it involves prep, travel, debriefing, and follow-up activities and I don’t schedule any of them onto my calendar is when things tend to get crowded.
We need to consider not only the time of the event itself but the adjacent commitments that it entails. I recently had a meeting downtown that ended at 1 pm. Since I had another meeting downtown at 3 pm, I decided to work from the library instead of traveling 20 minutes each way back and forth to home. My calendar showed 12-1 and 3-4 but my real commitment was 11:40 am – 4:20 pm. If I had declined the second meeting, I would have been away only from 11:40-1:20, giving me an afternoon of dedicated time at home.
With each “yes” you give, consider the opportunity cost of what you are inherently saying “no” to. What other commitments are implied when you hit “accept”? Do yourself a favor and schedule time for them on your calendar as well.