One of our favorite sayings is, “be effective by being selective.”
If your default answer is “yes” then you are probably over committed. Even if this is not the case, you may say yes more than you should.
When crafting an effective strategy, it is as critical to define what you are not doing (saying “no” to) as it is to define what you are doing. This ensures that your time and resources are devoted to what really matters. “No” increases productivity and transforms organizations.
Here are some tips to help get you take advantage of the productivity boost – “no!”
- Define Filters – when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Create decision filters that enable you to quickly determine the right answer for you based on your priorities. For example, we have a colleague that says no to anything that isn’t rewarding intellectually (mentally stimulating or a learning opportunity), spiritually (a cause or something he believes in) and financially (gets monetarily rewarded for the value created.)
- Begin with the End – if you clearly know where you are going, you will have one of your decision filters in place. Ruthlessly evaluate everything based on whether it gets you closer to your goals. If it doesn’t, then there is a good reason to say no.
- Practice – increase your ability to say no by practicing. Start small and work on overcoming guilt or pressure that you put on yourself. If you have a little voice in your head that says “you should”, learn to talk back and say “no.”
The holidays are coming and for many people this increases the obligations, the expectations and the pressure to say yes.
Before you end up with an overcommitted schedule, determine your priorities, your goals and then prepare to say no. Your calendar will thank you and you will accomplish your goals!