Productivity hack 4 – Just Say No

Text - Productivity hack 4 - Just Say No
This is from a series on the top 9 productivity hacks that you don't have time to ignore. Just say no. All are easy and effective productivity tips to fit into your life.

You are in the right place if you are looking for ideas to improve your productivity, planning and organisation.

This is the fourth blog post in a series on the top 9 productivity hacks.

There are hundreds of productivity hacks out there. Most will work in one way or another, but will depend on what you are looking for. The ones we are interested in will work for all areas of your life, work or personal.

Only the ones that are quick and easy to implement and have proven great results have made it onto the list.

At the end of the series I’ll post them all together in an overview.


Productivity hack 4 – Be like Zammo – “Just Say No”


Maybe that Grange Hill reference is showing my age too much! (Here is a link to the children’s TV show that was a great part of my youth if you are remotely interested). It’s got nothing to do with Productivity but hey, the phrase works!

Do you feel like the world is conspiring against you to dump all of its crap at your front door?

If so then it is time to start being difficult. No more Mrs Nice Girl.

[blockquote]“Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish. Anybody who gets upset and/or expects you to say YES all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Always remember: You have a right to say NO without having to explain yourself. Be at peace with your decisions.” ― Stephanie Lahart[/blockquote]

Following on from prioritising all of your to do list in Productivity hack 1 – take control of your to-do list, it is key to discover that doing the important stuff and ignoring the trivial is the most important step you can take in simplifying your life.

Clear the cr*p

Or putting it another way
[blockquote]One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity. – Bruce Lee[/blockquote]
But how do you stop other people from adding to your list.
Learning to be difficult when it counts really helps.
Fortunately a few simple routine changes can make bothering you so much more painful for people that they will leave you in peace.
To make it easier to say no identify what type of requests you usually can’t say no to and create a strategy in advance to deal with these requests.
It is important to keep the conversation friendly yet professional but show people that they can’t just drop new tasks on you without consequences.
Whether it’s phone calls, emails or face to face meetings, having a predefined strategy will give you the confidence to stand your ground while ensuring your point gets across effectively.
Here are some suggested ideas that are more business orientated, which you can adapt for personal use depending on how you normally chat to the people in question.

Email scheduling template

A lot of time can be wasted answering unimportant emails. Hopefully you are already trying to implement the tactic that was discussed in Productivity hack 2 – Declutter your online life to only deal with emails at scheduled times during the day.
To effectively get this message across you can set an automatic email responder, similar to an out of office, that tells people what is happening.
It could go something like this:
Due to a high workload, I am currently checking and responding to emails at these times <provide your chosen times> only.
If you require urgent assistance that cannot wait until either <your chosen times>, please contact me via phone at 333-333-333.
Thank you for understanding this move to more efficiency and effectiveness. It helps me accomplish more to serve you better.
Kind regards”
What you are doing is not directly saying no but making it more difficult for people to ask you to do something.
For a more personal email to a friend you could do something similar but use terms and a tone that you would more commonly use. But keep it clear that you are really busy to take on anything else.

Phone call rebuttal

If the email template above hasn’t put them off, or they have rung you directly without emailing first then you still need to have a phone tactic.
Firstly, if this is business orientated, you can assume the issue is urgent, so you need to direct them to get to the point as quickly as possible. Discourage any small talk.
Once you know who it is you could start with something like “Hi [Name], I’m right in the middle of something, How can I help you out?”.
They may suggest calling back but just say “No, I have a minute. What can I do for you?”
If they ramble on try and get them to the point. Don’t let them go into a long description, instead say something like “[Name], sorry to interrupt, but I have a call in 5 minutes, what can I do to help you out, or can you drop me an email?”
Only if the issue is urgent and something you need to be dealing with then continue, otherwise try the same tactic that is described in the face to face meeting section described below. If they chose to email then explain your schedule and that it will be dealt with then.
Again, you may want to change the wording slightly if it is friends, but it should still be clear that you are busy and can’t do anything further.

Face to face meeting rebuttal

If you are asked directly to do something a firm “no, I’m busy right now. I’ll let you know if I’m available later” should work. This makes it clear that you can’t do it now and sets no expectations that you will be able to do it later eirther.
If they are more insistent have a conversation something like the following:
  1. Let them ask you to do a new task
  2. Say “I’d love to handle that, but could you please look at this?”
  3. Show them your task list
  4. Say “which of these tasks would you like to delay to make time for this one?”
  5. Wait for their response
This strategy is not so much saying no, it is to make the other person think more about the priority of what they are asking and to put blocks in place.
With these tactics in your back pocket you should be well placed to confidently say no without causing any offence and you don’t have to feel guilty.

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