In order to be successful in work and life, there is a simple two-letter word we need to learn to say more often…“no”. This may seem counterproductive to some people who may ask, “but if I turn down tasks, won’t it look as though I am not a team player?” Nonsense. We must remember that is the quality of work you do and not the quantity. Follow these strategies to find the balance you need between saying “yes” and “no”.

Determine Your Priorities

While we all enjoy being productive, taking on too much can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed. If you wake up in the morning feeling stressed out about the day ahead then it may be an indication that you have too much on your plate. Outlining your priorities will give you the roadmap you need to navigate your day.

Say No to the Small Stuff

Sure, you have several fires to put out throughout your day but are you the one who started them? Sometimes we feel as though we can do on all the small, simple tasks people ask of us. However, if you agree to take on too many they can quickly become a huge burden on their own. Refer back to your priorities in order to find time for the small duties that are within a manageable timeframe.

Implement a Schedule

You have probably seen the hilarious YouTube video of a woman declaring, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Well, guess what? If you do not have a schedule then you may not have time for any of that. A schedule is essential for successful time management. It will give you a clearer vision of what you need to prioritize for the day, week or month ahead.

Remember: You are in Control

Successful investor Warren Buffet once said, “You can’t let other people set your agenda in life.” Simply put, if you don’t say “no” more often, people can very easily monopolize your time thus killing your productivity. It is essential to maintain control of one of your most valuable assets…your time. Saying “no” more often will not deplete your value or self-worth if anything it will increase it.
While it seems counterintuitive to say “no” to be more productive, these tips will help you find a better balance between work and life.

Major General (Retired) Mike Diamond is CEO and founder of Diamond Strategy Group. Diamond Strategy Group is a leadership development and consulting company. We focus on improving the quality of leadership within organizations by utilizing the same methods Mike and his consultants have used in both the military and civilian sectors. We invite you to stay connected! Visit us online at and connect with Mike at Diamond Strategy Group on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail us at!

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