Just Say No
September 7, 2022
Most of us are probably too quick to say yes and too slow to say no. Ask yourself where you fall on that spectrum.
If you have trouble saying no, you may find the following strategy proposed by Tim Harford, the famous British economist, to be helpful.
“If I had to do this today, would I agree to it?”
Not a bad rule of thumb since any future commitment, no matter how far away it might be, will eventually become an imminent problem.
If an opportunity is exciting enough to drop whatever you’re doing right now, then it’s a yes.
If it’s not, then perhaps you should think twice.
This is similar to the well-known “Hell Yeah or No” method from Derek Sivers. If someone asks you to do something and your first reaction is “Hell Yeah!”, then do it. If it doesn’t excite you, then say no.
Saying no can be difficult, but it is often easier than the alternative.
It’s easier to avoid commitments than get out of commitments.
Saying no keeps you toward the easier end of this spectrum.
What is true about health is also true about productivity: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
More effort is wasted doing things that don’t matter than is wasted doing things inefficiently. And if that is the case, elimination is a far more useful skill than optimization.
As Peter Drucker puts it, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
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