As strange as it may sound, when you put your foot down and say no, you’ll end up being more productive.
Actually working on a task will take up most of your time as opposed to not working on anything at all. Keep in mind the old programmer proverb, “Remember that there is no code faster than no code.”
Think about all the times you’re asked to perform a task and you say yes without even thinking about it. Then some time later, you realize you’ve bitten off way more than you can chew and you end up resenting the work even though you agreed to it on your own volition. There’s nothing wrong with stopping to ask if some work is worth it.
It sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? So what makes us say yes all the time?
What Makes Us Keep Saying Yes
Most of the time the simple truth is that we don’t want to seem like an unkind person who isn’t willing to help others. Things become more complicated when it is people we have to see everyday like colleagues and relatives. Not only do we not want to seem terrible, but we also hold some modicum of affection for them which makes it harder to turn them down.
But all you need to do is respond with grace. When you have time, help them and when you must turn them down, do so in a kind and affectionate manner.
How Is Yes Different From No?
No means you’re opposed to just the one proposition that has been placed before you. But yes means that you’re closing yourself off to all the other possibilities that exist. When you say yes, you’re preventing yourself from working on all the other things you could have accomplished in that time. The commitment you’ve given decides your fate. It places a responsibility on your shoulders that you can’t lightly shrug off.
What No Does
Turning down a request is hard when you aren’t too sure of your own success. But what if you’re preventing yourself from reaching success by not saying no? The ability to say it is something we all need to learn at the beginning of our careers because we have nothing more valuable than our time to offer.
Even according to the famous Steve Jobs, focus is all about setting aside the many other good ideas floating around and choosing which one to work on with care. Spontaneity and innovation have their place and by saying no, you’re not ignoring them. You’re just learning to see opportunities for what they are and you can always say yes to whatever you feel will help you move forward. Especially when you’re just starting out, you need to experiment so that you find out what works for you and what doesn’t.
Making Your No Smarter
As you grow in your chosen field, the value of your time shoots up. In the beginning, you just need to get rid of things that make you lose focus while figuring out what is important. When you get closer to the top, you must realize that certain opportunities that were important earlier are just not anymore. You need to make good use of your no. Say yes only when it is to something that actually matters.
Teaching Yourself To Say No
According to a British Economist called Tim Harford, you must ask yourself whether you would say yes in the present moment if a task was suddenly thrust on you. This works because all the work you see in your future will one day become something you need to finish the next day. If hearing about it makes you so excited that you’re ready to stop whatever you’re doing and focus all your attention on it, say yes. Otherwise it isn’t worth it. Saying no and avoiding the task altogether is easier than saying yes and trying to get out of it later.
How No Is Powerful
You’re wasting a lot of time and energy working on tasks that are worthless. It is actually much better to be doing something useful even if you aren’t doing it very well. Eliminate whatever is unimportant and focus on making optimal use of your time. If you get worried, just remember what Peter Drucker had to say, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
So, say “no” and be successful.