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The One Productivity Tip People Overlook

What you say no to is as important as what you say yes to

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With more things fighting for our attention as ever, one productivity tip that people might overlook is saying no to as many things as possible. One famous strategy is said to have been given as advice by Warren Buffet to his pilot; to make a list of his 25 career goals, circle the top 5 and avoid the next 20 at all costs.

Yet we live in a world where we say yes to everything without measuring the ROI of the time and effort spent into the thing. A popular thing we tend to say ‘yes’ to are phone notifications. Basically, when we keep the notifications on , we tell Facebook, Twitter and all those apps to, “Yes…please interrupt me while I’m doing deep work here.” 

Personally, I keep my phone on silent most of the time. Given, my life doesn’t require me to pick up the phone the moment it rings, but I can always call back after a couple of hours, and nothing major would have happened (except that the caller might be livid). But the idea is, say no to your phone and remove all notifications. 

Another idea is to always measure the return of (time) invested on the task being done. This was something I personally learnt during school. There was this one time when I finished an assignment, and then discovered an error that I had made across the whole assignment. In that moment, I thought to myself, correcting that error would take all night as I would need to repeat all the simulations. However, this professor was the type who didn’t cut off too many marks for systematic errors especially when the rest of the steps were correct. So in my mind, repeating everything and getting a 100 wasn’t worth it when the mistakes would probably lead to an 80 %. 

However, one prerequisite to saying “no” is being really clear about what your life purpose is, and going through a self-assessment phase where you know what your goals and values are. If you’re still in that stage where you’re trying to discover those goals and values, then saying no might close doors of potential opportunities in your face. 

Another thing that I want people to remember is when you say no to someone, you’re actually doing them a favor, because that’s better than committing to helping them and then canceling last minute just to have them scrambling for a replacement. 

So what are going to say no to today? 

Let me know what you think in the comments below and visit my blog and follow me @ahechoes on twitter/IG

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