People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

– Steve Jobs

How good are you at saying “no?”

I had a teacher, mentor who said: Without a “no” your “yeses” have no meaning. What I came to understand is that when we say “yes” to everything, we have not delineated what’s important and we’ll end up consumed by the trivial. A “yes” to everything guarantees an overloaded desk, frustration and exhaustion, which is not the secret ingredient for good time management.

And there must be a whole bunch of people out there who haven’t learned how to say “no” with 62% of high earning professionals in our corporate world working more than 50 hours a week and 10% working more than 80 hours per week.

Many have ended up in this position simply because they’ve built a wrong decision foundation. They believe that by taking on more they are demonstrating value to the organization. That is wrong thinking. Instead, you need to verify that this is what you should be working on.

This may seem counterintuitive; however, the moment you learn to say “no,” you actually become more valuable to your company. You and your time become a precious commodity rather than remaining mired in too much work and not enough time.

The first step in “no” training is to stop yourself from automatically saying “yes.” Take a deep breath to halt your instinctive “yes” response; and then, ask a couple of questions.

  • Am I the only one who can do this?
  • Is this project more important than what I’m currently slated to work on?

If the answer to these two questions is “yes” go for it, but if the answer is “no,” you know what to do. Enjoy the extra time and the pile free desk.

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