Boost Your Productivity by Saying No

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Contributed by Jason Faber

There is one particular trap most entrepreneurs of start-ups fall into.

It usually happens when others begin taking notice of your new enterprise. You have spent countless days and nights, pouring your blood, sweat and tears into getting your venture launched, and people are now seeing the result of your efforts.

You are being seen as someone who gets things done. Family, friends and those from your community will begin formulating ideas on how you can help them. It feels good when others reach out for your opinion, especially because we strive to position ourselves as an expert.

But it’s what happens next, that can become a deadly trap.

A Deadly Trap

Paul Graham, the author of How To Do What You Love, calls prestige “the perfect bait for ambitious people”. It’s used to get ambitious people to serve on committees, take on promotions or a new job, give speeches and write books.

Sometimes, as entrepreneurs we convince ourselves, “If it helps me, then it will help my business”. And it typically begins with the small things that boost our egos or our status. Prestige can pull your focus away from working on your business.

In a 2008 interview, the late Steve Jobs said, “People think focus means saying ‘yes’ to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying ‘no’ to the hundred other good ideas that there are.” If we are to remain productive on any worthwhile endeavor, we must guard our time well and get better at saying no more often.

Three Questions

Years ago, I learned of a checklist from a productivity consultant which I apply to my business (and even my personal life). It helps clarify what to stop doing. This simple exercise ensures ensures you are focusing your time and energy on the stuff that matters, and not on the stuff that hinder you from accomplishing your passions.

Here are the three questions to review and consider:

  1. What do I need to stop doing?
  2. What do I need to continue doing?
  3. What do I need to start doing?

The first step is the most critical, but most of us skip it because we are trained to look for something new. But, doing new or more things is not always the case. By quitting and saying no to more things, it will help you stay focused on what matters most.

So go on and quit more things and start saying no. It will be the most liberating and productive thing to master for the health and growth of your business.

Jason FaberJason Faber is creative director and owner of M is Good! – a boutique brand agency located in Morrisville, NC. He loves working with founders and entrepreneurs on their branding and marketing strategies.