“No” is a simple word. It’s one of the tiniest words in English, and it translates easily into almost every other language in the world.
Yet it’s so hard for many of us to actually say it when it matters most.
The ability to turn down requests for help and favors is a missing boundary. It prevents you from being as productive as you’d like. The minutes you spend doing things you’d rather not do keeps you from the wish-list of activities you’d prefer.
Learning to say “no” can double your productivity and enhance your life in ways you never imagined. Here’s the science behind turning people down and why you need this boundary in your life.
1. Your Priorities Become Skewed
The more you say yes when you’d rather say no, the easier it becomes to fall into the trap of losing sight of your own goals. You slowly begin to rank other people’s needs over your own.
When your default response is to do for others when you’d rather not, it’s a slippery slope. You find yourself putting off things you’d rather do in place of other people’s tasks.
Why This Is An Issue
Skewered priorities harm our own goals. Eventually, you stop thinking about what’s best for you in favor of what’s best for others.
This is not necessarily positive, like loving your neighbor and doing unto others as you’d have done to you. There’s a limit.
You risk losing sight of your own priorities and preferences because you can’t say no. If this occurs with a coworker, your work performance suffers. If this is an issue with someone in your personal life, your health suffers.
Focus on your priorities and your productivity will soar.
2. Setting Boundaries Helps You and Others
When you’re a people-pleaser, the can be difficult. You implement little walls to help you say “no” easier
That rejection can sting those who expect you to continually agree to help them.
It’s not always their fault. Some people don’t realize they’re taking advantage of your boundaries because you never set them.
How Do I Set Boundaries?
Let those you care about know that you’ve realized the dangers of taking on too much responsibility. Honestly tell them that it’s affecting your productivity and you’re working on saying no more often.
Give those around you most often a list of acceptable and unacceptable requests. Set specific times to ask you for favors. Creating a schedule and letting people know ahead that you’re busy shows them when it’s okay to ask for help.
Maintaining boundaries is a great way to keep an eye on your goals and increase productivity.
3. If You Overcommit, Things Slack
Taking it all the way back to basic math, the truth is that it’s impossible to give 100% to everything you do. No matter how hard you try, eventually, you’re going to wear out.
When you overcommit, chances are you’re going to end up slacking on something. Forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning is one thing; missing your child’s recital is another.
Overcommitting for too long causes major problems in your personal and work lives.
What’s Wrong With Overcommitting?
As you juggle too many tasks, it’s likely that you’ll end up going a mile wide and an inch deep instead of the opposite. You’ll do the basics needed to check the task off of your list, but not in a way to be proud of.
To avoid the danger of little mistakes causing big trouble, say no and avoid overcommitting in the first place.
This can double your productivity in every facet of your life.
4. Always Saying “Yes” is Exhausting
Yes, things slack when you’re always agreeing to help others. But worse than that, your body doesn’t get the rest it needs.
Your mind becomes stressed and you get frustrated. Sooner or later this bottled up resentment is going to come out, most likely at the wrong time.
You don’t pick the time when your body and mind give up from exhaustion. It just happens. And it can happen at the worst possible moment.
How Can I Avoid “Yes” Exhaustion?
You may get sick at an inopportune time and have no choice but to let others take over. Or you snap and say something hurtful you regret.
Overload is dangerous and has consequences.
Instead, learn how to say no to unhealthy requests. When you do, you can increase your productivity consistently.
A balance of work and rest helps you to and mental breakdowns. It also keeps your productivity up, in a healthy manner.
5. You Look Better to Others at Work
While some people worry that saying “no” will make them look bad, the truth is the opposite happens.
Over time, coworkers see you as a role model of how to manage a hectic schedule and still meet deadlines. Your reputation will be as someone reliable who’s always improving.
When you learn the art of setting boundaries correctly, others admire your self-assurance. Even better, it becomes a goal for them to work towards in their own lives, too.
You and your coworkers will be able to double your productivity together, to the benefit of your business.
We all want to look good to others, and saying yes when they ask for help is an easy way to make that happen.
The problem comes when saying yes to others means we have to overwork ourselves. Or say no to healthier choices, hindering our productivity along the way.
By setting boundaries and focusing on your goals, it’s easier to turn an accidental “yes” into a purposeful “no.” And by following these tips, you’ll see how “no” is one simple word that can double your productivity.
It will become a habit that teaches you that you can actually do more for others when you do more for yourself.
Caitlin Sinclair is the Property Manager at with 5 years of property management experience and many more in Customer Service. She shares her passion for her community and looks forward to making Portside Ventura Harbor the place to call home.