The Single Reason You Might Be an Unproductive Worker

productivity tips

It’s New Year’s Resolution time and if you’re like most people, increasing work productivity is at the top of your list. You want to get more done, and get better results from what you do.

Begin by facing the reality: You don’t know how to say No. Saying No to the requests of others is an activity many people find difficult. There are many emotional and social consequences attached to it — it’s much more easily said than done. But, it’s vital to getting more accomplished each week.

When to Say No:

First, get it out of your head that I’m asking you to stiff-arm your boss. I’m not talking about ducking out of your commitments. What I am talking about are the various small requests, favors, and minutes-to-spare you lend out. The tiny requests of others can fill a roomful of your time each month.

Say No when:

• It doesn’t fit your job description
• Your weekly goals don’t mesh with the request
• Your time is fully budgeted to important tasks
• The request helps you procrastinate
• You will suffer in terms of time, money, tasks, or other resources

Remember: if requests from others are indeed important to you, then they should already be included in your weekly or daily plan.

How to Say No:

Saying No is hard. You often feel guilty, obligated, or responsible to the person who is making the request. Perhaps you’re a “people pleaser” who derives self-worth from coming to the aid of others. These are understandable conditions, but your own success is at stake here.

The thing is, saying No doesn’t have to involve you being mean, inconsiderate, tough, or stubborn. What it does involve is setting healthy boundaries for you and your plans.

Here are some tips:

• No is a harsh, abrupt word that doesn’t fit a polite response. Instead, choose a phrase that works for you, like “I’m going to have to pass, it doesn’t fit my schedule and priorities.”
• Don’t say Maybe, or offer a non-decisive response in an attempt to avoid conflict. Maybes always come back and haunt you later when you’re even busier.
• Offer an alternate solution, such as a suggestion how the individual can complete the task on their own or with help from another resourse
• Be confident. Keep your day planner updated and handy at all times as a valuable tool for knowing your daily and weekly schedule

Say Yes to Yourself

So, here’s the twist: Don’t say No to others, say Yes to yourself. At least, think of it that way.

Yes, it sounds like cheesy motivational-speak, but it’s truthful: Your plans come first. If you create your own weekly priorities, and you create balance in your commitments, and you want to cross things off your own to-do list, then you have every right to stick to this plan. Change your mindset and have a successful year!

[photo by Omarukai]
Jeff Doubek Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at

2 thoughts on “The Single Reason You Might Be an Unproductive Worker

  1. Knowing how to respond to requests for your time will increase productivity, but I take issue with one of your points on taking the negative. Saying no because it does not fit the job description may prove costly in the long run. How many times have all of us heard “It’s not my job, man.”? I personally avoid people and companies with that attitude. I think it is better to say “I don’t know, but let me refer you to someone who does.” Next, you reach for the handy directory section of your Day-Timer and for the desired phone number or e-mail address.

    1. That’s an excellent point Tim. You certainly have to ensure that you act within the scope of your responsibilities. That’s why it’s especially important to have a grasp of what is important to you, and the values that drive you.

      Thank you for commenting.

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