Setting your boundaries by saying "no" actually leads to higher productivity.
In fact, when you come down to it, being productive is pretty simple. It just involves a little elbow grease to get stuff done.
But when we try to do everything, in most instances we dilute the outcome. We end up doing a crappy job simply because we only have so many cycles to spear.
HOW DO WE AVOID DILUTION
There are two simple actions you can take (and they are not mutually exclusive):
1) say "no" to requests for taking on extra work; and
2) set some boundaries.
1) SAYING NO: Regardless of what you might think, you're not superman. There's only so much you can do in a given day. And at the end of that day, when you don’t have the spear capacity, or the cycles, and the job has to get done, you can do one of two things: delegate the task, or simply say "no."
Remember: Saying "no" is an option. And as difficult as it might sound, knowing when to choose that option is right inside you.
In fact, Sarri Gilman, psychotherapist and author of the book Transform Your Boundaries, gave a TEDx talk in 2015 about this very concept.
She suggests that we picture an inner compass with the words Yes and No written on them. The idea is that when we are about to take on a venture that we know will dilute our energies, we must follow our gut and let the arrow on our inner compass point to No.
WHEN YOU SAY NO YOU COMMUNICATE YOUR VALUE TO THE THE WORLD
You're saying: Rather than do a crap job, I’ll pass and let someone else complete the task as a benefit to the organization and/or project.
2) SETTING BOUNDARIES: Let’s look at the problem another way: if you continue to work an extra hour helping someone else, or say "yes" to extra tasks just because you have the skills to do so, requests for favours will no longer be the exception. They will be the rule.
This is the message you're telling everyone: Give it to Jane. She has the skills, and she won’t say 'no.'
You're saying that you don’t really value your time -- the time that could be spent with friends, family and other loved ones.
Just sayin’ ....
SO BEFORE ANYONE ASKS YOU FOR A FAVOUR TRY THIS
On a page of your Wipebook whiteboard, draw your "inner compass" that Sarri Gilman describes, with the words Yes and No clearly labeled.
On a second page, make a list of at least five instances in which you were asked to go above and beyond the call of duty at work. Leave two columns where you can check Yes or No.
As you review your list, look at the "inner compass" sketch. Then check Yes or No according to how you really wanted to respond to each request. Chances are, you actually wanted to say "no."
Lastly, on a third page, write, "NO. Sorry, I can't." Keep your Wipebook open to that page for quick reference.
SO THE NEXT TIME SOMEONE ASKS YOU TAKE SOMETHING ON AT WORK, refer to that last page. Then say, “NO. Sorry, I can’t.” And see what happens.