The late Steve Jobs was known for being highly focused despite encountering thousands of daily distractions. He was also known for asking Apple’s senior leaders “how many times did you say ‘no’ today?” This question points to a deeper context: if you’re saying “no” to irrelevant things every day, you can spend more time on work that truly matters.
I believe leaders have an obligation to work efficiently and effectively so that others do the same. Whether you’re leading an organization or you plan to be a senior leader, it’s essential to turn down time-sucks. From unnecessary reports to aimless meetings, here are the areas where saying “no” can actually boost your productivity.
Say no to any meeting without a Decider in the room. To discourage frivolous meetings, pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb empowers its staff to ask “Who’s the Decision Maker?” Whenever you receive a new meeting invite, ask if a Decision Maker is attending. If not, politely decline — and do something productive with that hour of your life.