5 Times to Say No to Yourself to Stay Productive

pablo (32)You have an important task or looming deadline.

Yet, you find yourself surfing the Internet, checking your social feeds, or reading the news.

To stay on task, sometimes you need to ask yourself, “What shouldn’t I be doing right now?

Saying No to Yourself

The other day, I was supposed to be completing a few important todos off my list. Yet, I found myself surfing the Internet.

I was looking for a random replacement part for a home project. Was it something I wanted to do? Sure. Was it something that needed to be done now? Absolutely not.

Of course, the “few moments” of searching the Internet turned into a half hour of surfing new home appliances and gadgets.

Before I knew it, I had wasted almost an hour of important time that I could have spent on my top priorities. Instead, those took a backseat to mindless Internet surfing.

Does this ever happen to you?

When you find yourself off track, you need to stop what you are doing and ask, “What shouldn’t I be doing right now?”

”To get things done, sometimes you need to say No to yourself.”

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Here are 5 Times That You Need to Say No in Order to Get More Done:

  1. Surfing the Internet – You could surf the Internet forever. It is expanding faster than you could ever consume it. While a great source of information, the web can be a tremendous time-waster. Make sure you say No to endless surfing when you should be working.
  2. Doing Miscellaneous Tasks – Small tasks are attractive because they are easy, and you think they are going to be quick. However, if you start doing these small todos, they will take over your entire day. Stop and make sure you are doing the important tasks rather than the small and easy ones.
  3. Playing on your Phone – Our phones are simply amazing. We don’t go anywhere without them. Yet, as much as they can save time, they can waste our lives. Limit your phone time to doing tasks that improve your productivity rather than simply playing.
  4. Responding to Interruptions – Interruptions come in many forms. While you often can’t control them, you can determine how you respond to them. Say No to becoming distracted by interruptions that are less important than your current task.
  5. Answering Your Phone – How often do you answer your phone when you shouldn’t? Remember it is there for your convenience, not the other person’s. Only answer your phone when you should.

Do What You Should Be Doing

Make sure you are doing what you should today.

If you drift, stop and ask, “What shouldn’t I be doing right now?”

This simple question will often snap you back to your priorities. Use it to avoid the trivial things that come your way and stick with your day’s most important work.

Question: What shouldn’t you be doing today? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

9 thoughts on “5 Times to Say No to Yourself to Stay Productive

  1. “You could surf the Internet forever. It is expanding faster than you could ever consume it.” So true! It’s a black hole for sure 🙂

    Craig, do you have any tips for the remote workers among us who don’t necessarily have a manager looking over our shoulders to make sure we stay on track? In other words, where do you find the willpower?

    1. You may want to read “The Willpower Instinct” by McGonigal, or “Willpower” by Baumeister and Tierney. They are complementary.

      Willpower is a muscle.
      You need to train it everyday, but do not exhaust it completely.
      You deplete your willpower by making decisions, too.
      Which page to surf to ? What do you think about the news (each one) ?
      The most simple decisions may be the more draining, because you feel you can master them very well, and you take the opportunity to regain your sense of control in them, and you expect them to appear, but you fly away from important and complex decisions.

      You can use “universal” methods you craft yourself intead of making decisions : it takes sometimes more time, and can seem stupid, but saves willpower for real decisions. At the end of the day, you lack more willpower than you lack time, so save willpower.
      NO distraction is better than a few, because if it’s ‘a few’, you need to decide for each one between it and your real work.
      Breaks are different, you need them.

      And you must train yourself to think only to relevant things at the moment, (ie during breaks it means thinking to the break itself).

  2. Wow great post.. i have been working on a project for the last 4 days and it didnt go so well. I think im a little scared of the project so i always find things i shouldnt do… i will try to ask myself what shouldnt i be doing. Maybe this will help.. thanks

  3. What about the question I have heard the other day: “Is this the most valuable thing I could do with my time right now”?

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