The Art of saying 'no'

09-06-2024

I have been working full time remotely for the last 3 years but the last couple of months flying as a solo team without an engineering or product manager has opened my eyes to the importance of time management. This is not as simple as crossing off things on your to-do-list, but rather creating the space and time for you to focus on what really matters.

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.
-Steve Jobs

Keep an eye on the bigger picture

We all have so much going on in life and sometimes, it's easy to get caught up with just mindless execution to complete tasks. I found that having that full big picture brought clarity to my focus each week at work. By having a clear understanding of business direction and product strategy in the organisation, the overall goals helps ensure that the right things are being worked on for impactful contributions.

Scope creeps or pandora box discussions are common dangerous distractions where you can easily lose track of the bigger picture. Always ask yourself, "how does this contribute to the business and the organisation's objectives?"

You cannot keep everyone happy

That is the simple truth. We all have things on our plate, you cannot say yes to everyone all the time. Be firm on your boundaries and people will respect them. It may be hard to say no to people, but by saying yes to everything, people will take advantage of that. "Why should we do it when we've got Bob who will say yes?"

Offer an alternative

Sometimes, there are situations where you cannot necessarily say 'no'. And perhaps you do not want to be known as the person that is saying 'no' to everything all the time. In that case, reframe the situation. Be flexible. Instead of saying no, offer other ways you can help others. How can you support another team's goals whilst also continuing to contribute to your own?

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