Productivity Tips: How to Say No

Steve Jobs once said, “Focus is about saying no.” And it’s true. If you say yes to every new task proposed by your boss or colleagues, you’ll never finish a task or achieve your goals. For this reason it’s important to know how to properly say no.

Before you can learn how to say no, you have to learn two things: the value of your time and what you prioritize.

Know the Value of your Time

You can never get enough of time. If you break down your daily activity, you will either see that your commitments are eating up your time schedule or you have some time to spare. Spend some time breaking your activity down into time blocks, so you can truly grasp the value of your time.

Know Your Priorities

What do you prioritize at work? Are there projects, tasks, or goals more important than others? When you know your priorities, you will be able to fully understand whether or not a new commitment is something worth your spare time.

The Art of Saying No

Saying no is not easy. This is why we have tips to help. The people you may have to say no to include: the colleague with an idea that asks for your help or your boss who has a project for you.

Saying No to the Boss

It’s a common misconception that you should always say yes to your boss. However, saying no to the boss is not a bad thing. It merely says that you have good time management skills and work ethic. When you say no, explain that you can’t take on anymore commitments because it is decreasing your productivity and messing with your existing commitments. If the boss insists that the new project is more important, have them review your project/task list to help you prioritize.

Saying No to your Coworker

Explaining that you can’t do something for a coworker is a bit easier than explaining it to your boss. However, you don’t want to hurt an established relationship with this coworker. First off, you want to say it as soon as you can. If you wait to tell them in hope that they will forget about it, they won’t and it will damage the relationship more than just simply saying no. Secondly, you want to be brief in your explanation and maybe even propose something else that you can do for them that isn’t as time-consuming.

Don’t Apologize

It may seem like a good idea to start off by saying “I’m sorry, but I can’t…” and may seem a little more polite, but this actually weakens your response. Stay firm about guarding your time and you’ll be respected.

“I’ll Get Back to You”

You can always answer the request by saying “let me check my schedule.” Instead of providing an answer right away, it’s sometimes the best route to allow yourself some time to consider the additional work. Even if the answer ends up being “no” after all, at least you offered to give it some thought.

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