The third major obstacle to productivity in Mush Monday’s list is the inability to say no. It is one of those simple things that we constantly fail to avoid. We do not like to hear a no when we request something, but we also don’t like to say it. It is very deeply rooted in our brains. We naturally want to avoid as much conflict as we can. When we say no to someone, they will try to bargain, convince us, and possibly even use guilt to make us feel bad. We are then often inclined to concede. After a lifetime of dealing with this cycle, we instinctively begin to say yes to most requests. On top of that, we are always afraid of coming across as rude or afraid of losing personal (or even business) relationships over a single no. It is how we are psychologically wired. We will say yes to everything in order to come across as the nicest person ever and never have to deal with rejecting someone’s request. But this does not lead to a healthy and productive lifestyle or relationships. In fact, this mentality has a massive negative impact on our productivity for many reasons that we will explore in this article.

WHY IS THE INABILITY TO SAY NO AN OBSTACLE?

You may take pride in always being there to help others and concede to every request that comes down your path, but is that really a virtue? People talk a lot about individuals that are always helpful and come to the rescue immediately. Obviously, from their point of view, it is a nice thing. But what about the person that is always available (probably you)? Are you really satisfied to allocate your time solely on other people’s problems? What about your own problems? Your aspirations? Your self-growth? After you question those things, are you still sure that you want to be a yes person? Shouldn’t you devote more time to yourself and your skillset? We often get stuck throughout our lives for many different reasons. Sadly, most of the time we can’t even identify them until someone points them out. If you feel that your inability to say no has left you in a rut, and you want to change into a more productive and fulfilled person, read on.

WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID BEING A YES PERSON

First of all, let’s start by looking at the problems associated with being a yes person. It may seem like an obvious statement to say that saying yes to everything will chip away at your time. Still, it does not matter if it is obvious. We will say yes way more times than we say no. And it isn’t as easy as just stating it. We are raised to do what we are told since our childhood. This escalates when we go to elementary school, high school, and so on. We are always doing what people tell us to do or what we should do. However, it is at that point that people start to branch out or completely succumb to that mentality. Why? Simply put, it is peer pressure. At some point during our teenage years, we start to seek approval not only from authoritarian figures, but also from our friends. As far as we know, the easiest method to get people to like us is to say yes to every request they make. Over the years, this mentality starts to become a part of our natural processes. But it comes with a massive price: our time.
We easily disregard our time for the well-being and acceptance of others. Eventually, people start to see you as a person that is always available and willing to satisfy their needs. And when you end up saying no to something, they will make you question yourself. It is indeed a nasty habit that eats away at your emotional stability, time, and overall productivity. We like people depending on us because it makes us feel useful and fulfilled. However, when you are aspiring to be a better version of yourself, that sparks a greater feeling of fulfillment, more so than being at the whim of others. When you are finally able to say no to someone to work on yourself, you will experience a different outlook on life. A few months or years later, after you have used the time allotted in helping others to help yourself, you will start to feel a whole new level of accomplishment. And that sense of accomplishment will come solely from yourself.

Nevertheless, saying no is not something you should do every time. Of course, we should say yes from time to time. But there is a fine line between helping when someone genuinely needs our assistance, or helping because we are the go-to person that never says no. This is where matters get interesting. The inability to say no will never stop being an obstacle to your productivity if you don’t find the perfect balance between your schedule/goals and other people’s needs, that is, the perfect balance between yes and no.

THE PERFECT BALANCE BETWEEN YES AND NO

Obviously, there are some times when saying yes is necessary. We need to pay attention to our friends and family when they have a reasonable request. The goal is to balance it. You can’t be depended on every time they have a need. And you can’t let yourself be consumed by that mentality of caving in. If you do so, you will never be able to let go of the inability to say no, and you will never be able to manage your time to become more productive. This applies to every little thing that happens throughout the day. If you constantly asked for favors and you do every one, then when the day finally ends you didn’t have any opportunity for your self-development. This is when you must be able to say no. “No, I can’t walk the dog right now. I have to study for an important subject.” Or “No, you guys watch the show. I need some time to go over these reports for tomorrow.” In order to become more productive without falling for this trap, you must build a balance and impose some limits on your availability for other people’s issues.
If you still have trouble saying no, try an alternative. Direct them to other people that can help. Instead of taking on the task yourself, tell them to ask someone else to do it because you are busy. That way you are still helping, but you are not allocating your time poorly.
This is particularly relevant if you work from home, for example. People tend to associate those who work from home with individuals that are always available. Yes, your schedule might even be more flexible, but does that make your time less valuable or less important? Obviously not. You still have your job to do, while others are making snarky remarks about your workplace. Don’t fall for this trap. This balance of yes and no will be harder to build if you are in this position, but it becomes even more vital to you. Fight for it!

WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID BEING A YES PERSON

First of all, let’s start by looking at the problems associated with being a yes person. It may seem like an obvious statement to say that saying yes to everything will chip away at your time. Still, it does not matter if it is obvious. We will say yes way more times than we say no. And it isn’t as easy as just stating it. We are raised to do what we are told since our childhood. This escalates when we go to elementary school, high school, and so on. We are always doing what people tell us to do or what we should do. However, it is at that point that people start to branch out or completely succumb to that mentality. Why? Simply put, it is peer pressure. At some point during our teenage years, we start to seek approval not only from authoritarian figures, but also from our friends. As far as we know, the easiest method to get people to like us is to say yes to every request they make. Over the years, this mentality starts to become a part of our natural processes. But it comes with a massive price: our time.
We easily disregard our time for the well-being and acceptance of others. Eventually, people start to see you as a person that is always available and willing to satisfy their needs. And when you end up saying no to something, they will make you question yourself. It is indeed a nasty habit that eats away at your emotional stability, time, and overall productivity. We like people depending on us because it makes us feel useful and fulfilled. However, when you are aspiring to be a better version of yourself, that sparks a greater feeling of fulfillment, more so than being at the whim of others. When you are finally able to say no to someone to work on yourself, you will experience a different outlook on life. A few months or years later, after you have used the time allotted in helping others to help yourself, you will start to feel a whole new level of accomplishment. And that sense of accomplishment will come solely from yourself.

BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF

You can’t truly be productive if you are not honest with yourself. The inability to say no is a mindset, and mindsets can be changed if one is devoted to doing it. Do you really want to be available for other people all the time? Or do you want to invest in yourself? Do you want to be more productive and grow professionally and personally? You can’t do that if you are always putting yourself second.
If your mindset is already stuck in the “I have to say yes” mentality, you are already limiting your potential. A person needs to be willing to put himself first most of the time in order to truly be productive. Note that we are not saying to be a selfish person. You just need to prioritize and be honest about what you really want and need to do. Saying no to someone you like is not the end of the world. It is an essential step on your journey to productivity. As we have said several times before, time is your most important resource when it comes to being more productive. And you need to allocate that time wisely. Saying no when you can and should say it will be a vital step on that journey.
On top of that, one of the things that cost us the most time and energy is trying to comply with requests that we know we can’t do properly. Still, due to our inability to say no, we try to do it. We will waste a lot more energy and time trying to fill the gap caused by your inadequacy. This is far beyond the point of dampening your productivity. In fact, it is counterproductive. Be honest with yourself and your current abilities to avoid this situation.

SAYING NO MAKES SAYING YES MUCH MORE VALUABLE

If you are always saying yes to people, your help becomes a lot less valuable because you are always willing to do it. It becomes “cheap.” However, if you do say no every now and then, your yes will become that much more valuable to other people. They will stop coming to you with silly requests because they will know your time is important – so important that you can’t just give it away for little stuff.
The concept and mindset of saying yes to everything applies both to our personal lives and our professional lives. When the people above you make unreasonable requests – like doing a two-man job in half the time – we tend to say yes, of course! In the end, you are only able to deliver poor results and project a bad image of yourself and your work. This is also counterproductive.
It is better to say that you can’t deliver it in that timeframe. Talk about the amount of work that is needed and that you are not comfortable delivering subpar work. Most people will understand and commend you for being straight up.
If you have the courage to stand up for yourself and say no when it is needed, your yes will be a lot firmer and encouraging. People will see your yes as a sign of strength and confidence, instead of always saying it to everything. And, in the end, your results will speak for yourself. You will no longer deliver rushed projects and people will see the quality of your work.

Do you see how the inability of saying no impacts every aspect of your life? Your productivity? It isn’t only a matter of wasting time. It impacts how you grow and your personality, too. It impacts other people’s views about you. Make your yes valuable!

FINAL THOUGHTS

Saying no can be scary for any of us. But if we are not willing to do so, we are in a lot of trouble productivity-wise. It is one of the major obstacles that stops us from moving forward and from improving our lives and accomplishments. Our time is our most valuable asset when it comes to productivity and personal/professional growth. If you do not give it the proper attention and value it deserves, then others won’t either.
Remember that you need to give yourself the freedom to decide what you can and cannot do for others. Even though the concept of being a yes person may seem appealing and easier, it will hurt your goals and your future. There is only so much that we can do to improve ourselves when we are already so busy with a full-time job, parenting, or studying. In order to become even greater, our free time can’t be spent frivolously. Besides, mustering the courage to say no from time to time plays a big role in our self-development. And isn’t that what we are all about in our search for productivity?
If these concepts seem familiar, take the next step and figure out just how to tackle this problem