3 Practices to Maximize Productivity and Engagement

by Sue Hawkes

Have you ever struggled with saying “no?” I certainly have – in fact, years ago I had to have a friend point out that even my company is named YESS! Many times we say yess out of a desire to help others succeed, sometimes out of a need for approval, sometimes out of obligation and sometimes it’s a wholehearted, sincere YESS! Only in the latter case will the yess result in favorable outcomes for all people involved – including you.

When your business is in start-up mode or you are going through an impactful change, all hands are on deck and there’s an assumptive “yess” that’s almost expected as we conquer what’s rapidly happening all around us. This is not the most effective way to proceed, however. Although being involved in many things keeps entrepreneurs from getting bored, doing too many things at once keeps us from truly focusing our efforts. When we say yess to too many things, we often don’t fully commit to anything. What I’ve learned is it’s more productive to say “no” to those things that truly aren’t in our highest and best interest while focusing on a few imperative things that move everything forward. So how do you do that when you’re a person who loves to multi-task?

Establish Priorities
When we say yess to one thing, we are saying no to many other things whether we realize it or not. Please stop for a minute and think about that. When I stopped to think about all the “no’s” that accompanied my one “yess” it forced me to take stock of where “yess” was the source of my concerns as a default answer. Committing time and energy to something means that we take it away from something else because we all have a finite amount of time and energy to give. (You can learn more and practice with our “Saying No” Exercise). Determining priorities helps us decide what to say yess and no to because where we spend our time speaks to our true priorities, not our ideal priorities. If you are feeling out of alignment – which can show up as overwhelm, resentment, procrastination etc…It’s likely your time and efforts are probably not in line with your personal values. Do you say your family is a top priority but you always come home late? Are you always overbooked? Are you enjoying the things you commit to? If no was your answer, you may need to reevaluate where you are spending your time and energy. Take a look at your calendar over the past month and see where you are actually spending your time. What do you need to give up? What do you need to add in? Is there space with nothing booked? Is there time for your own self-care?

Ask for Help
Another part of saying “no” is learning how to ask for help and be willing to receive it. This can be difficult for high-achievers because we are used to getting things done without much help or are usually the first to offer help to others. Asking for help will feel uncomfortable, but it is imperative if you want to surround yourself with a winning team by allowing others to contribute as well. It’s selfish to never give others the opportunity to be in service. By learning to receive, we actually better serve others and ourselves as we learn to say no and focus our energies on what is truly each person’s highest and best use.

Delegate and Elevate
In addition to having trouble saying “no,” many of us get lost in the minutiae of the day and we feel like we just don’t have enough time for all we’ve committed ourselves to. We have priorities that we need to handle, but it’s easy to get bogged down by details and day-to-day tasks. What if your day was spent doing things you love and are great at or at least like and are good at? Delegating tasks that aren’t in your “unique ability” will make you happier, more successful and more productive in life. Additionally, something you don’t enjoy doing is often something someone else loves to do! The best tool I’ve ever come across to support myself with effectiveness in delegation is the EOS Delegate and Elevate tool. This simple (but not easy) exercise helps you categorize all your activities into four quadrants and over time you will delegate everything that is not in the top two quadrants. This tool becomes the filter you’ll use for new opportunities and tasks as well. As you let go of the things “below the line” for the quadrants, you will become more engaged and happy at work by helping you to say no and delegate things that aren’t your unique ability. For a deep dive on how to complete this exercise, I recommend you refer to the book: How to be a Great Boss by Gino Wickman and Rene Boer, pages 28-33.

Saying “no” takes practice, and once you begin to do it you’ll realize how much your focused time and energy makes you more productive. You’ll also feel increased peace once you begin spending your time aligning your priorities with your values by asking for help and delegating the tasks that aren’t in your unique ability. When a team of people is thriving, each person is doing what they love and are best at while serving others. Saying “YESS!” authentically is at the heart of it all, which can only be done when we say “no” authentically as well.

Sue Hawkes3 Practices to Maximize Productivity and Engagement