The easiest way to boost your productivity is to learn how to say no. Not doing something will always create more time to do the things you need to do.

Your level of productivity (high or low) comes down to how you use your time.

After you master saying NO, you can begin to set the stage for increased productivity every single day with 6 easy steps. I will get to that a bit further into this article.

I am not suggesting that you say no to every new opportunity. I simply want to point out that generally we are all a bunch of Yessers!

Most of us want to please others and feel that by saying yes, we will help whoever it is that is making the request for our time. How often do you say “sure” without thought when someone asks you to add a new task to your day? The truth is that we say yes to many things we don’t actually want to do.

The bottom line is that if you continually say yes, eventually you will let those you said yes to – down.

AND you will feel over-extended and go into a state of overwhelm. Sadly, when we feel overwhelmed, we become unproductive.

How often do we find ourselves in this situation, even though we were the ones who said yes to the task?

OK – so far, so simple right?


The easiest way to say no to a new opportunity is to use these words: “Thanks for thinking of me. I am honored (excited, thrilled, honored or whatever feels right…) that you’ve offered me this opportunity. May I get back with you tomorrow and let you know if I can do it?”

Give yourself at least a 24-hour window before you commit to anything new.

This allows you to make a step back and to be proactive as opposed to reactive. It will help you assess without duress whether it really falls in line with your big picture goals.

It might be a fantastic opportunity, but you need to have that clarity of thought and take a step back before you say yes.

So number one is to always say thank you and can I please get back with you tomorrow.

Keep in mind, if you end up saying no, it is a very professional thing to do.

In the end, saying no to new opportunities is really saying yes to the ones you’ve committed to and the ones you prioritize.

Once you have practiced a few times and are able to say no with grace, there are a few more steps to truly ramping up your productivity.

I personally follow the 6 step method created by Ivy Lee who was hired by Charles Schwab in the early 1900’s to increase his employees level of productivity.

So here it is. Simple but super powerful:

At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.

Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.

When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.

Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.

Repeat this process every working day.

• Compile 6 tasks
• Prioritize by importance
• Work on task #1 until completed
• End of day, move unfinished items
• Create new list of six tasks, in order
• Repeat these steps daily

The biggest problem people have working with ‘to do lists’ is they have too many activities and they don’t prioritize them or allow the activities to peel over to the next day.

Get a small spiral notebook specifically for this process. Keep this notepad front and center and try this method out for a week or two and watch how much more you get done.

Once this process is implemented in your life, you will probably never go back to your random post it notes or scribbled sheets of loose paper acting as your ‘to do‘ lists!

Kathi Burns
Kathi Burns

Would like to feel more organized? If so, Kathi is here to help you.

Kathi’s expert advice has been featured in national media outlets including Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart Living and Better Homes and Gardens, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more.

As the author of 2 books, Kathi has also developed several online courses to help clients get better organized and energized in all areas of their home, life, and business.

Check out all of the systems you can use here

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