One STOP at A Time: How Saying No Gets More Things Done

Since COVID-19 began, work is seemingly on a fast paced cycle. Most people that I speak with say that they are working more hours than ever and are managing a staggering amount of priorities and initiatives. Not only has the workload grown, the level of “yessing” I see people say in a world where the word “no” exists is stunning.

While most of us create a “to do” list every day, how about creating a “not doing” list? Taking a good look at what is important to STOP doing has the ability to create much greater momentum, productivity and success.

As someone who coaches and consults thousands of leaders, here are strategies and observations of terrific areas to STOP doing:

  1. STOP doing what doesn’t give you energy, inspire you or make you want to be a better person.
  2. STOP saying yes to everything. Saying “no” is as powerful and will earn you great respect.
  3. STOP playing office politics. The reason we have politics is because of the continued choice to engage. Time to have honest conversations as a way of building and deepening our relationships.
  4. STOP saying you are not good enough. We all are human beings having a human experience, only our own limiting beliefs make you small.  See yourself as big!
  5. STOP resenting – your boss, co-workers, the person who got the promotion instead of you, etc. etc. – life is much too short to live in such pain.
  6. STOP relying on others for accolades. Time to start appreciating yourself.
  7. STOP comparing yourself to everyone else. This is a lose, lose proposition. Begin comparing yourself to your greatness and see how life changes.
  8. STOP allowing tough conversations to pass you by. The only way you grow is by putting yourself in situations that are uncomfortable. Haven’t you ever had a relationship where there was a disagreement that moved to higher ground because of tough talk?
  9. STOP people pleasing. Not everyone will like you. And that is actually a good thing.
  10. STOP multitasking. Research shows that multitasking doesn’t work and actually makes you less effective. Instead, put down your phone, stop what you are doing and be present for another. One of the greatest gifts you can give is listening.
  11. STOP doing everything yourself. You have a team of people around you – either those you lead directly or those who lead projects with you or your boss, peers, etc. There are always people who are here to help we simply need to ask.
  12. STOP saying you don’t have time. Delegate, automate and officiate. Time management is really about “choice” management – managing our time is a choice. Where we choose to put our time, effort and energy is a constant negotiation. Today with the gift of so many incredible apps and platforms, we can delegate much easier.
  13. STOP saying, “that’s just the way things work around here.” Empower yourself by speaking up, getting consensus privately before you do so publicly and getting allies to help incite positive change that moves your organization forward.
  14. STOP complaining. If you are speaking disparaging about someone else, take a good look in the mirror and work with that person first. You deserve your best you!
  15. STOP putting people development as a last ditch item on your to do list. Without developing your people actively, every day, productivity and motivation will sorely suffer and where will your successors be?  Your high potentials? As Mark Twain said, “really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
  16. STOP doing what others think you should do – people have a gnarly habit of taking on other people’s thoughts and opinions and it becomes so difficult to listen to our inner voice. To know how you feel, you have to stop listening to everyone else.
  17. STOP thinking you know what other people are thinking. We seldom do, time to be curious.
  18. STOP putting yourself last. You can’t give what you don’t have. If you don’t have time, energy or lack of sleep then you cannot possibly really lean in to do so for others. It’s important to take care of you first.

And finally…stop putting your dreams aside for the hope that one day everything will be ready for you to live the life you truly want. There are all sorts of reasons why we can choose not to live our dreams  – money, time, position, etc. And still, life is not a tombstone in the making, it is a tapestry and a mosaic waiting for our imprint.

Esther Weinberg is the Chief Leadership Development Officer and Founder of The Ready Zone. To dive deeper into the ideas and strategies offered in this article, complete our Needs Assessment and we’ll schedule time to connect.

In the meantime, download our FREE eBook – “Why Your Company’s Bottom Line Is Not Your Top Priority: 6 Eye-Opening Strategies to Put People First.