Justin wrote this comment on my post Ask the Readers: What Productivity-Related Problem Do You Have? :
I’ve found that not getting things done is sometimes almost as important as getting things done in productivity. When people request too much of me, I have a hard time telling them no without killing the relationship. Yet if I say yes to everything, I only hinder my productivity with work overload.
It’s a situation I believe many of us face. People give their requests to us and we aren’t able to say no because of fear that saying no will ruin our relationships with them. Eventually that makes us feel overwhelmed. But, as Justin said above, not getting things done is sometimes just as important as getting things done. In fact, I think that it is equally important.
Not getting the wrong things done is just as important as getting the right things done. Of course, it’s up to you to classify something as the right or the wrong thing to do. But once you decide that something is wrong to do, you should not get it done and not even work on it in the first place. That ensures that you have the time and energy to get the right things done and done right. Reserve your mental energy and don’t waste your resources on something that will give you nothing in the end. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you should be selfish and not help others. What I mean is you shouldn’t help others in a way that will harm yourself.
How can we decide whether or not something is right to do? Here are two questions to help you decide:
- Does it help you reach your goal in one way or another?
- Do you have the capacity (time and energy) to handle it?
If your answers to both questions are no, then most likely is it’s not worth doing. The second question is especially important if the request is unrelated to your goals (which could happen pretty often).
For requests you think you shouldn’t do, you should learn to say no without feeling guilty. Some people may try to make you feel guilty if you don’t comply with their request, but don’t fall into the trap. If you know you’re right, you should be confident with yourself. Say no, give them the reason if necessary, and don’t apologize.
Here are three reasons why it’s important to learn to say no:
1. Other people should have realistic expectations about you
One reason people give their requests to you is because they have unrealistic expectations about you. They may think that you have large capacity to handle more requests while in fact you aren’t. Your saying yes will only worsen the situation. If you say yes, people around you will continue to have wrong expectations. It’s your job to let them know that your capacity is limited.
2. You can’t please everybody
Perhaps you are afraid that you will ruin your relationships if you say no. But the fact is no matter how kind you try to be some people may still resent toward you. While it’s important that other people have realistic expectation about you, it’s equally important that you have realistic expectation about yourself. There is no way you can please everybody. Trying to do so will only drain your time and mental energy.
3. Your self worth is not determined by your performance
If you think that you are worthy because you meet people’s requests, you need to change your mindset. Your performance doesn’t determine your self worth. You are worthy because of who you are and not because of what you do. So don’t fall into the trap of trying to meet everyone’s expectation. Even if they say something negative about you, understand that your self worth is not determined by it. You can still feel good about yourself no matter what other people say.
Learning to say no is essential to reserve your mental energy and be productive. Do you have tips or thoughts about it? Feel free to share them in the comments.
This article is part of June 2008 theme: Productivity
Photo by Jeronimo Palacios