Time Management: Power of a Positive “No”

Sign that says NoNot only do you not have time to do everything, but you can’t do everything well. As you become more important, more valuable, more wanted, your time still remains constant at 24 hours a day. And your need for sleep doesn’t decrease.

Every time you say “yes” to something you are implicitly saying “no” to other things.

When asked to do something, consider the following:

    • Is it strategic to your vision. If it is not on the path to your goals, your success, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. For example, I turned down writing a column for Success Magazine my literary agent was trying to talk me into.


    • Is it something you can do well? Maybe you are not the right person to do it. Maybe someone else can do it better/easier/faster/etc. For example, financials are not a strong point for me. When I’ve been early in a startup, I’ve wanted a good financial person there.


    • Is it something you can do a great job on? If you are only capable of doing a (what my father would call) “half-assed” job, you shouldn’t do it. I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t take on projects that stretch your capabilities, because you should, but for example, I should not write a compiler, manage a team of salespeople, or open a wine store (although that sounds pretty cool!).


  • Do you have the time to do it? “I’d love to but I do not have enough time to do a great job” has a nice ring to it sometimes. Will doing it take time away from other things you are doing possibly causing a substandard performance? I’d love to dive headfirst deeper into forensics for example, but no way do I have the time to do it right!

You can just say no without explanation.

Remember that “No” is a complete sentence. You do NOT need to say why. That often gets into discussions on “How” instead of “No.”

Of course sometimes you have no choice! You might be the logical choice to do it among a group of bad choices. You may need to take one for the team. Or you may have one of these “boss” things which I hear can be unreasonable at times!

Previous Post

Time Blocking

Next Post

People Get What They Expect


    • Fred
    • December 16, 2014

    The “You can just say no without explanation” is awesome. Indeed, “No” is a complete statement as is “I can’t do that.” Doesn’t mean you are being an a-hole, and you CAN offer an explanation if you want.

    Funny, my friends accept “no” and don’t ask why. I rarely say no to friends, but when I do, they accept it usually without comment and it’s cool.

    I will start saying “no” without explanation, only when the correct answer, to others now!

    Thanks Ted!

    • Ted Demopoulos
    • December 16, 2014

    Often people do not want an explanation. They may even think what they asked for was a real stretch and expect a no.

    That said, I love to say “yes” but only when reasonable!

    • Clydemnestra
    • December 16, 2014

    Nice one – I find myself historically regretting taking on too much, saying yes too often.

    I want ALL my yeses to not just be “yes” but “YEAH VERILY MOTHERFUCKER” – as positive as can be. I’m in 100%+ – I’m psyched and I have/will make time – not merely an “OK.”

    “Yes” should mean “yes” not just “OK I guess.”

      • Ted Demopoulos
      • December 16, 2014

      Well said,

      You should take on projects with gusto, not because you were merely asked.
      Of course the real world gets complex sometimes, but I agree 100% Miss C!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.