Are you a people pleaser?
Do you take on more than you can handle? Or would you like a way to focus on your work without becoming distracted by other people’s priorities?
Productive entrepreneurs and executives make smart decisions about how to spend their time, energy and resources. They also know to what to turn down, and how to do it.
Activities You Can Delegate
Management consultant and author Peter Drucker said,
“You can’t build on weakness.”
Instead, he recommended focusing on one’s strengths.
For example, you might have excellent copywriting skills and be able to sell your products and services via creating sales pages, but you struggle with designing visual elements for these pages.
Say no to spending hours taking Photoshop tutorials or trying to improve your design skills.
Instead, focus on copywriting, outsource design work to a third-party and save time self-editing using tools like Grammarly.
Alternatively, if you work within a larger business, you might excel at data analysis but struggle at presenting information in a visually appealing way.
Instead of trying to improve your PowerPoint skills, consider enlisting a colleague who can turn your analysis into a format others can interpret. This way, you can advance faster by focusing on your strengths rather than trying to improve your weaknesses.
Urgent Requests That Don’t Really Matter
An email arrives in your inbox with a request for “your thoughts before lunch.” Responding takes ten minutes and isn’t directly related to anything you’re working on.
While it’s nice to help others, these urgent but unimportant activities soak up time and mental energy.
Important but not urgent activities represent other people’s priorities and often arrive in your email inbox when you’re bored or procrastinating.
The thirty-fourth president of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower said,
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
He proposed the Eisenhower box as a framework for deciding what to focus on and what to ignore.
Instead, say yes to important tasks that help you achieve your goals faster and say no, or at least not right now, to everything else. Only later should you return to these requests and activities (if at all).
Ways Of Working That Drain You
Several years ago, I worked with a sales manager of a large team. He loved nothing more than reaching a decision by talking about his ideas out loud with his team. On the other hand, I often need time and space to reflect on information before reaching a decision.
At first I thought I was just procrastinating and should work more like this sales manager, but then I realized he was a classic extrovert, whereas I’m an introvert. Both work styles are OK.
In Quiet, Susan Cain wrote,
“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.”
He arranged his working day so he was surrounded by others, whereas I built in blocks of quiet or alone time into my day.
I often need to recharge after events or large meetings although he found these activities revitalizing.
Say No Like A Pro
Learning how and what to say no to is a skill that demands practice. It’s particularly difficult if you’re used to accommodating others.
Once you know yourself and your working style, you’ll be better able to identify what to refuse by saying no to or postpone until you’re free to help a colleague or peer.
After all, self-knowledge (and a little diplomacy) are important traits for entrepreneurs and executives.