Productivity Series: The Power of Saying No

Billionaire Warren Buffett once said: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

“No” is such a powerful word. When someone invites you to do something with them and you say “no,” it seems like you’re closing yourself off to new opportunities. However, saying “no” actually opens the door to higher productivity.

If you don’t become comfortable with saying “no,” you’re going to struggle to achieve your goals. Having a “yes” mindset basically implies that you are simply going with the flow. You are willing to commit to every activity that presents itself. It’s a “whatever floats your boat” philosophy. On the contrary, if you want to be focused and successful in life, you have to be the captain of your own ship. The ability to say no shows that you are in control of your own life. It shows that you know what you want and what you don’t want, and you’re not going to compromise.

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A lot of us struggle to say no, because we live in a “yes” culture. Saying yes comes easily. Additionally, many of us fear that if we turn things down, we let people down. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by rejecting them. We’re also worried about what other people will think if we don’t join in. Meanwhile, others of us struggle with FOMO. We fear that if we turn things down, we let ourselves down because we miss out. Unfortunately, the more you say yes, the more you overcommit, and the less time and energy you have to do the things that matter.

Time is such a precious gift and if we want to be more productive, we have to be intentional and purposeful about what we do with it. We have to get comfortable with saying no.

So how can we get comfortable with saying no? Well, first, it helps to understand your long-term goals. What are you trying to achieve in the long run? Where are you heading? What projects are you committed to at this moment? Clearly define your goals. When you know what you want, you can be strategic with your commitments. You can then choose to only say yes to the opportunities that align with your values.

Saying no is not going to be easy. However, if you’re aiming to go above and beyond in your endeavors, it is a crucial skill to learn. Being committed to multiple tasks puts your productivity levels at risk, because you waste your energy and time. You have to learn to filter out the activities that are irrelevant to your personal success.

It all starts with your mindset. Know that when you say no to the things that don’t serve you, you are saying yes to the things that do, and ultimately growing in your individual purpose and ambitions. If you really want to be productive, it’s time to be a little selfish with your time.