No Is Your Best Time Management Secret


Saying No

No is one of the simplest, shortest words in the English language. It’s one of the first words that most babies learn and in those young years. Kids tell us, “No, I don’t want to eat breakfast. I want ice cream.”

Kids understand the power of no. It’s simple. It’s effective and I understand in certain terms what she does and does not want. Can saying no be the simple solution to time management and productivity?

In our careers, we were told the secret to climbing the ladder of success started with yes. We started feeling guilty, obligated, trapped and stopped saying “no.” Yes led to promotions, more responsibility and more money. Instead, we learned to schedule in more meetings, more events and added more tasks to our to-do list than we could ever dream of accomplishing. Not only did we tell ourselves that we couldn’t say “no” but we also let others pressure us into believing that no was not an acceptable answer. We believed the only way was yes. Yes, was the promised land.

“They” weren’t working as a solo entrepreneur. Remember, you are a one woman/man business and the focus must be on your business in order to succeed.

It starts innocently enough. You are flattered even giddy when someone asks you to join their board of advisors, or to meet for coffee and have a respected friend pick your brain. You are excited when someone invites you to guest post on their blog for exposure. You are happy to speak at the local rotary club early on a Wednesday morning.

But all those yes-es begin to add up and you have no time left for your newly found business. You are busy but not generating any income for your business. You begin to wonder how did this possibly happen to me. 

  • Create Boundaries. Sounds simple but it isn’t. Maybe you start by limiting yourself to the number of boards you sit on or the amount of coffee meetups you schedule each week.
  • Don’t Apologize. Be firm and clear that you want to help but not at this present time.
  • Stay Focused. On your business and your strategy. Create monetary goals and targets for you to work towards reaching. Consider logging your time spent doing tasks and activities daily for several weeks to really understand where gaps and opportunities may exist.
  • Target Your Networking. Set your sights on individuals, businesses and persons to meet, get to know and interact with. Your networking could come in the form of a business lunch, conference or introduction. I use my Workology Podcast as a way to make time for relationship building and catching up with business friends. It’s targeted, focused and helps them increase their visibility using technology.
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Jessica Miller-Merrell
Jessica Miller-Merrell is workplace technologist and marketing strategist. She's the founder of and proud member of the independent workforce 5 years and counting. Follow her on Twitter, @jmillermerrell.
Posted in Featured, Productivity