Sometimes, it can feel like saying “no” at work is a mortal sin. However, that one little word can increase your productivity if you use it right.
As you accumulate responsibility at work or home, you don’t always notice that you’re wearing too many hats to balance. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance from 2001 found that multitasking isn’t as efficient as some believed. Additional studies have built on the original hypothesis and continue to reach the same conclusion.
Therefore saying “no” is a simple word that can be one among the ways to double your productivity.
Here are seven ways how one word improves output.
1. Learn New Tasks at a Reasonable Pace
Everyone has a learning curve for new tasks. If you’re trying to master a new duty, it’s best to spend several hours focused on picking up the basics. However, trying to master the new assignment while multitasking with an existing task slows you down on all fronts.
Your current expertise suffers, and you don’t learn new tasks at a reasonable pace. If someone asks you to take on a new project while you’re in the middle of an existing one, saying “no” can double your productivity.
Of course, you can take on the new task if you’re allotted dedicated time without the expectation of sacrificing personal time or time without proper compensation.
However, to achieve success, give each task the focus it deserves.
2. Reduce Distractions
In some work environments, saying “no” isn’t an option. At least, it doesn’t seem to be an option in the eyes of employees. Working under the threat of possible replacement if you turn down extra work is a severe distraction.
This scenario is an opportunity to use your diplomacy, negotiation, and people skills. If you can’t take on more work, explain your reasons to the person who oversees your production. Consider finding alternate options that create a win-win situation for all parties.
Also, the population has never been in a more significant state of constant distraction. It’s easy to fiddle away time scrolling through your social media feeds on your smartphone and playing a round of your favorite mobile app game. Constantly checking in on your work email is another distraction.
Say “no” to these distractions, and you’ll notice that your productivity increases. Set a schedule for each task and stick to it.
3. Reduce Unnecessary Meetings
Several years ago, a Hollywood industry insider revealed that he purposefully kept his office outside the city’s boundaries. As a result, if a producer, actor, or other industry professional requested a meeting, they had to travel to him in Los Angeles traffic.
When they realized the effort meeting with him in person required, they often changed their tune, or they chatted with him quickly over the phone. Therefore he reduced unnecessary meetings.
Remote workers in 2020 found out that they were not optimizing the several hours they spent in meetings. In 2021, some remote workers toggle between two jobs. They mute a meeting while simultaneously working on tasks for a different employer. As a result, some remote workers found a way to increase their productivity and increase their income.
To double your productivity, say “no” to unnecessary meetings.
4. Reduce Contact with Negativity
People have bad days. Some have bad weeks. When it turns into bad months or years, it’s time to reduce your contact with negativity. As an employee, there’s not that much you can do about a co-worker who spreads negativity, but your employer can.
At an enterprise and mid-size company, the person can be re-assigned. Recommending that they speak with human resources is another solution. For start-ups and small businesses, it’s best to cut ties with the negativity. These ventures require good vibes and optimism. Sheer will can move mountains in some cases.
If you don’t have a role in hiring or assigning projects at work, say “no” to partnering with a co-worker who spreads negativity. You’ll see your productivity increase.
5. Control Your Schedule
Company cultures continue to change, even at corporations. Employees receive far more freedom to accomplish tasks within a set of outlined parameters. In a 40-hour week, you’ll know what’s expected from you output-wise.
If you work in sales, there’s an expectation that you’ll meet specific quotas. Even tellers at banks must meet quarterly sales goals. To double your productivity, take control of your schedule, especially if your office uses shared calendars.
By controlling your schedule, you allow your creative flow to roll. Professionals recommend blocking chunks of time for specific tasks. For example, spend one hour a day writing and answering emails. Follow it with an hour of cold calls if you’re in sales. Then, you can spend three to four hours twice a week visiting clients in person.
When you say “no” to letting others appropriate your schedule, you can double your productivity.
6. Maximize Time
After blocking out chunks of time, ensure that you maximize them. Understand how many emails you can write and answer in one hour. As long as the workload is the same, maintain the same output.
To maximize your time, take note of the minutes or hours it takes to complete everyday tasks. The benchmark allows you to measure your productivity. If you don’t achieve the same output, figure out what’s going on. You may find yourself in more last-minute meetings, taking on more new projects, or spending too much time checking your social media feeds.
Double your productivity by saying “no” to the things that prevent you from maximizing your time.
7. Avoid the Hype and Spontaneity
To help double your productivity, keep your disciplined eye on the prize. It’s easy to become enamored with fame. Receiving a great review in the press or by industry colleagues is gratifying. But, if you haven’t reached your ultimate goal, it’s a distraction.
Getting sucked in by fame leads to spontaneity. Suddenly, noteworthy people want to hang out with you at dinners, in bars, or on trips. Of course, networking is important, but spontaneity and hype eat up valuable hours. Plus, there’s the time you need to recover from the spontaneity.
By managing your schedule, you optimize your time. It’s possible to take on new projects and tasks when you’ve reigned in others. You assert yourself when you say “no” to unnecessary meetings, distractions, and decisions. Plus, you double your productivity.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with The Cynwyd to help them with their online marketing.