In the 2008 film “Yes Man,” Jim Carrey’s character finds himself withdrawn and cynical after a recent divorce. Eventually, he is convinced to attend a motivational seminar where he agrees to seize every opportunity presented to him by responding with “yes,” no matter what. His newfound positivity lands him in a number of promising circumstances that he otherwise would not have had the chance to experience had he answered with his usual resounding “no.”
Unfortunately, real life doesn’t always turn out like the movies. While being a “Yes Man”may make everyone around you happy, it isn’t very conducive towards your own productivity. Saying “Yes” to everything results in your taking on way too much responsibility. As somebody that champions delegation and virtual assistants, I can tell you that this is not the way to go. By learning to say “no” in certain situations, you can increase your potential to stay on track, get more done, and even be a little bit happier and clear-headed.
Saying “No” to Increase Your Productivity
- Say “no” to letting others control your schedule. If you are constantly running around trying to make yourself available to others to answer questions or help with problems, you won’t have time to do your own work. Don’t constantly rearrange your schedule to accommodate others. You will drive yourself crazy helping others but not helping yourself. Learn to block out others during focused period of time that only involve getting your own work done.
- Say “no” to starting new projects. If you have 20 pending projects that all need to get done by next week, saying “yes” to taking on a new project does nobody any good. It will overload you and it will upset your co-workers when some aspect of the project is inevitably delayed or not completed properly.Saying “no” is about doing the tough thing up front – potentially disappointing somebody who was hoping you could help them out – rather than inevitably disappointing everyone later on.
- Say “no” to unnecessary meetings.The majority of meetings can often be translated to a conference call or a circulated email instead. Learn to be selective with the meetings you hold or attend. Meetings often dwindle in productivity based on their length and number of attendees, so don’t feel obligated to attend a meeting if you feel your presence isn’t necessary, especially if you are able to access meeting notes, presentations, or videos on your own.
- Say “no” to yourself. Sometimes, to keep your productivity amped, you have to learn how to tell yourself “no.” Three times to say “no” to yourself:
- Surfing the internet: While taking breaks is important to prevent burnout and keep up with productivity, be sure you don’t let your break turn into an hour-long session of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Twitter.Monitor your breaks to ensure that you’re not taking them too frequently or taking off for too long.
- Getting caught up in a bunch of small, random tasks: Getting your short and simple projects done first is a good way to easily and quickly get some work off your plate, but make sure you don’t misinterpret how fast you can getthem done. If you work on ten small projects prior to your one large project, before you know it, your day will be halfway over and you’ll have to rush to complete your more important duties.Also, don’t procrastinate by interrupting work on a difficult but important project by attending to administrative minutiae.These tasks should be delegated to somebody–like a virtual assistant.
- Responding to interruptions: Interruptions come in many forms, and it’s up to you to selectively ignore them. Try to avoid answering non-work-related calls, texts, and IMs during your working hours. If you work from home, do your best to keep roommates, spouses, children, and pets from distracting you.Treat your environment like an office, and be sure everyone around you respects that.
While the idea of saying “yes” to every opportunity that presents itself can lead to some pretty unique experiences, ultimately, saying “yes” to everyone can be a serious time- and productivity-leech. Learn to distinguish between losing out on moments and turning down disruptions. Though Jim Carrey’s character thanked himself for embracing all his options, in the end, you will thank yourself for learning to say “no.”