Saying No to things you want to do

Money and alignment with professional goals aren’t the only reasons to say no to a good opportunity

We listen to audiobooks while washing dishes: we just cannot squeeze more efficiency from our days

We listen to audiobooks while washing dishes: we just cannot squeeze more efficiency from our days

 

We listen to audiobooks while washing dishes and answer emails while standing in line at the grocery store. We just cannot squeeze more efficiency from our days. So if we truly want to level up our productivity, there’s only one solution: we have to learn how to say no to the good things.

Here’s how you can find the strength to say no, and the questions you can ask yourself to stay focused:

1What are your top professional priorities? It’s exciting to jump on new opportunities that present themselves, but not if they’re at the expense of the plan you’ve carefully laid out. What are your top two or three goals this year?

2What is the total commitment? Find out what’s really involved. In addition to the commitment itself, is there planning or prep work to do? What’s the travel time? Will there be follow-up calls? Thinking this through will make the return on investment (or lack thereof) clearer. Make sure you’re taking all aspects of the opportunity into account before you say yes.

3What is the opportunity cost? Say you agree to do something because you were free, only to receive a paid offer later for the same date, which now you have to turn down. It’s important to remember that by saying no you’re leaving yourself open to better possibilities.

4 What is the physical/ emotional cost? Money and alignment with professional goals aren’t the only reasons to say no to a good opportunity. It’s also important to safeguard your health – something that’s easy to overlook. Saying yes to too many engagements can cause a lot of stress on the mind and body.

By saying no to some, you could maintain good health for when the right opportunities arise.

Saying no to good opportunities feels terrible. But there is strength in learning to say no. It’s the only way to reach the level of focus and productivity that allows you to become great. – Copyright Harvard Business Review 2016