Isn’t it hard to say NO?
Sure you can take on that extra project.
And sure you can work on those little action points today if your boss or client asks.
And of course you have 10 minutes to have a quick coffee with the colleague in distress.
Saying yes to all of this makes you seem like the perfect employee, colleague or business to work with, but really you’re just tying yourself in knots. Because all this “yes” saying is costing you your precious work time. And making up for it means making more hours or working weekends.
So even though saying yes feels very positive, you’re experiencing less productivity and more stress from it. So, what can you do?
Start At The End
Do you have a clear picture of what you want to achieve?
This is essential if you want to be able to manage your workload effectively.
This counts for both the end of the day, but also the week, month, year or even the much longer term. Knowing what you’re working towards will give you a frame of reference and therefore a sharper – and much easier to communicate – focus for the task at hand.
If you’re for example envisioning to work on project A that day, it’ll be a lot less likely that you’re going to spend time researching something for project B.
Work Your Way Back To Now
Into what smaller – and more manageable – steps does that picture break down?
Basically, you’re creating your planning AND building your list of priorities.
You break up the big end goal in logical categories and those categories in distinguishable actions. Make sure these, and only these, go on the to-do list of that period.
Define a realistic deadline for every single task you distinguish and be sure to build in some extra buffer time as things never really go according to plan.
Make A Decision
Are you fully committed to what you want to achieve?
Everybody who has ever had a big hairy goal in mind and failed to get there knows that it’s often due to the lack of a strong, passionate and unmovable decision. (Not counting unforeseen external circumstances, of course).
Without this decision, it will be hard to stick to the plan and get to your desired results. Temptations will sway you and procrastination will find you a whole lot sooner.
Compare it to you choosing to eat a light salad when everyone else is eating pizza; it has to be that strong!
Spread The Word
Do the people around you know what you’re working towards and the limitations you have in time?
Communicate your goal and your deadlines to the people that might distract you (including your boss). If they know and understand what you’re doing, you won’t have to say no as much.
It’s like when you’re dieting and you’re making sure your spouse doesn’t bring gallons of ice-cream into the house…
Start Saying NO
In theory it is quite simple: you have your clear goal, your plan, your deadline and you’re committed to get there but what if…
Your colleague comes by and wants to blow off some steam over a cup of coffee?
Perhaps, but impromptu cups of coffee all add up in time and divert you from your goal.
And what about your manager who stops by and asks you to review a report for project B before the end of the day?
You say NO again…
Find The Win Win Solution
Saying NO doesn’t mean that you have to be rude and final; you just have to figure out when or what WOULD work.
You could for example ask your colleague to join you for the lunch you were going to have anyway instead of that coffee break. Or call when you’re on your way home.
Perhaps your boss forgot that you’re only working on project A for now. And maybe your colleague working on project B can take on this review; you’ve helped her out many other times so why not?
Saying NO will boost your productivity.
But…it’s not as simple as just saying no. You’ll need to make sure all the conditions are in place to make it happen in a relaxed and responsible way.
It will take some practice, and it might feel awkward sometimes.
But wouldn’t it be great if you could tick off ALL your planned action boxes for once?Question: What can you say “no” to today, to boost your productivity? You can leave a comment by clicking here.