The Most Powerful Word In Productivity

It's clear enough: no. (istockphoto, (c) RMAX)
It’s clear enough: no. (istockphoto, (c) RMAX)


One of the most powerful — and most difficult — words to master in all of productivity: No.

Saying “no” to  something allows us to say “yes” to other things, things that matter more.

Learning HOW to turn down offers and assignments that don’t belong to us is a life skill of the highest order. If you haven’t mastered it yet, learn it right away!

Wondering how to say no? Here are a few possible answers.

“Sorry, now is not a good time.” This allows the possibility that you could say yes in the future.  Use it only if that’s true.

“I’m not able to do this, but here’s someone who might be.” By sending them to another source, you’ve still helped the person out even if you chose not to accommodate their request.

“No, I simply can’t say ‘Yes’.” This is a personal favorite of Meggin McIntosh, the coach and mentor behind Emphasis on Excellence. (Clients whom I have referred to her for one-on-one work have gotten great results.)

“I can’t do all that you ask, but I can do this part of it.” Which part can you offer?

“I’m flattered to be asked, but I can’t accept.” This is for those jobs that appeal to your vanity, but not to your goals and values.

“No.” No explanation is required, and excuses ring hollow. Just say ‘no.’

Remember that your time is your own. Don’t let others spend it for you.


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