04 Oct Improve Productivity with the Power of No
In Empower Yourself with the Power of No, I told you about my colleague who said his productivity had dropped following restructuring at his company. When he confided he was working with a project manager who frequently interrupted him (asking for his time to attend numerous meetings then following up with requests for reports or data), I realized this is actually a common problem for many professionals.
Learning when to say “No” will go a long way to towards improve productivity.
Sales teams in particular can be impacted in a negative way because all those interruptions take them away from what they need to be doing: selling! I believe the solution is to say “No” more often. Of course, it’s not always a good idea to say “No” but there are definitely some times that it truly is the right answer, and learning when to say “No” will go a long way to improve productivity.
Five Times to Say “No” and Improve Productivity
Here are five times to say “No” will help you improve productivity:
- Say “No” to Email
Set aside time to respond to email in a cluster, instead of responding to emails as they arrive. One of the largest wasters of the time is email. If you stop your current task to respond to an email, you have just become less efficient. Instead, set aside specific periods each day, during which time you respond to anything requiring your input. Better yet, set up mail rules and file your email as it comes in and review it as needed. And, be sure to set response time expectations in your auto-replies. Seven Easy Ways to Get Control of Your Inbox offers practical advice to help you get control of your emails.
- Say “No” to Instant Messenger
When you’re busy, focused or shouldn’t be interrupted, let people know up front. Customize your IM system with a variety of “do not disturb” messages. Some can be customized to show different messages to different users. Find out what your system can do and take advantage of it. How to Make Sure Your Work is Productive provides ways you can manage instant messaging and phone calls.
- Say “No” to Interruptions
Close the real and virtual door and let your peers know, when you have the door closed, there’s a reason.
- Say “No” to Clients
If your job is to sell, then sell. Pass customer service issues on to your customer service team. Or if you don’t have that type of organization, break your day into distinct sections: prospecting for new clients in the morning, nurturing existing clients in the afternoon. Be clear about when you are available and you and your clients will have a better relationship because they know you’ll be more 100% focused on them at that time.
- Say “No” to Your Boss
Be realistic. Can you do what’s being asked? Does the request fit into work-life balance? Would another time work equally well? Remember, to train others to respect your time. If you respond “no problem” to a request on Friday afternoon for something to be done by Monday morning, you’re sending the message that your free time is not valuable. We see this again and again. There’s an unrealistic request made to someone and after they deliver it, the person who requested it doesn’t review it for a week.
The next time someone interrupts your work time with a request, think before you say “Yes” and think about these tips to decide if, perhaps, this is the right time to say “No”.