Hacking time management: part one

Feb 26th, 2016 | By FCT

Just say “no” and other miracles

“The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people say no to almost everything.” ~ Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett isn’t alone.

Steve Jobs was famous for many things but one of the biggest impacts he had on Apple had nothing to do with technology or design: he taught his people to say no. In fact, his obsession with focus was so single-minded that he’d ask senior staff, “How many times did you say no today?”

The beautiful thing about this approach is that you have to be self-aware—on purpose, if you will—have your priorities straight and your desired outcomes dead clear.

You simply can’t do deep, high-value work, in chunks of uninterrupted time, work that drives high returns over time without this.

So the power of no is also a challenge to empower yourself to be your best, not for the sake of productivity but because you’ll feel better about yourself, your work and your relationships with your colleagues, peers and manager(s).

It’s mightily empowering, not just for you, but for the people who report to you or with whom you collaborate; the power of no defines the problem in stark terms: we’re not doing that. Or that. Or that.

Just this. This is the problem.

For anyone of an entrepreneurial bent, this is a huge blessing, because what comedian Louis CK once called “productive refusal” is actually a variation on the power to delegate intelligently and with panache—or, even better, not at all.

How does this work?

Simple. Every time you receive a request to undertake some task, never say “yes” in the moment. Check your calendar and answer with in a professional, prompt timeframe. In my world, that’s generally end of day.

Here’s the key to actually committing: is this task high value per hour invested or low? If it’s high, then it’s higher in the queue. If it’s low value, delegate to someone for whom it’s a higher value.

This covers off the assignment element. But what of timeline?

Two things should be embedded in the commitment to tackle a task: a clear deadline and an equally clear expected result.

In other words: when’s it due and what does success look like…really look like?

Here’s what an empowered no wins you:

  1. No more missed deadlines by folks working for you or by your partners.
  2. No more poor quality results because the work was hammered out, simply to get it done.
  3. Eliminates neediness from people who work for you: they’re empowered to focus and excel on that which must be done, not pointless tertiary tasks.
  4. Diminishes unpredictability. Work-time becomes far less of a roller-coaster without the bouts of panic and lack of focus.

For a thorough takedown on the power of no, visit http://www.5amhacks.com/want-to-be-productive-learn-to-say-no. And for an extension of this thinking—saying no to negative things, here’s a compelling slideshow.

Do you practice the power of saying no in your business today?

Categories: EXPERT/ease
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