- Time is our most precious possession.
- It's not possible for you to take care of every obligation and every responsibility in your life as you would like it to be done. Even if you could give 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- If you do not accept these facts, you will naively assume that somehow everything will get taken care of, and you will become consumed and controlled by what seems urgent at the time.
In business there are literally hundreds of things begging for our attention every day. Your staff ring wanting guidance, customers want your undivided attention, suppliers want to sell you more of their stuff, the bank wants to know why you are over your limit, and new customers ask you to fit in jobs into your already overloaded schedule...
Some of these things are important, some less important, and some are just time-wasters.
I see this often in trades where business owners and staff try to please everyone and get over-committed to jobs. Then they find they have lots of angry customers who are not getting their jobs done on time, or even worse short-cuts are being taken and they have to go back to fix jobs which are wrong. Cashflow suffers, pricing is off - ultimately you are working very long hours and making very little money.
When you say YES to something, you are also saying NO to something else. When you say YES to that urgent job when you are at capacity, you will also have to say NO to another customer who will have their job delayed. When you say YES and work extra hours on the weekend or at night, you are also saying NO to your family because that time is no longer available to them.
It is not always easy to say NO. After all no one wants to be seen as the bad guy. And society tells us that we should say YES all the time, and that we can have it all.
So how do you pull this off so that you can start saying YES to those more important things in your business and your life?
Well the first step is to define what the most important things are and what you should do with your time. So make a list of tasks that are essential, and these are the things that must be done today no matter what. Now you know what to say YES to. Anything less important that is likely to get in the road of these tasks – well, you will need to say NO to it.
Second it helps to have a few ways of saying NO in a way that reduces the likelihood of offending people. Here are a couple of examples:
Plumber has a new customer who wants a non urgent job done today:
“I’m terribly sorry Mrs Wilson, we value your job, but NO I can’t fit you in today as I am already fully committed to other urgent jobs. We can book you in next week, but if I fit your job today it will mean that one of the other customers I have already committed to will miss out.”
“I’m very sorry Sam, but NO I just don’t have time to see you this week. You could send me some information on what you have for me to look at; if I can see the benefits I would be happy to make a time to talk further.”
Keep in mind that saying NO can also be about delegating tasks to other staff. The smart business owner knows that things can still get done without them being intimately involved in every aspect of the business!
When you start saying NO, people will think twice before asking you for unreasonable requests, which will give you some better boundaries and let you get a lot more of the important tasks done that will change your business. Be careful though – say NO too many times and you might start having the business you always dreamed of.
Action Point: Use your “essential tasks” list to guide your day so the most essential tasks are started and completed. Begin your day by conquering the very most important task (hint: not checking Facebook) - and you will feel fantastic. Start saying NO to at least one thing a day you should not be doing. Let me know your results!