Time Management Expert, Event Speaker: Mark Lamendola

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Time Tips: Saying No

Say "No" and say it the right way.

For example, your boss gives you 96 hours of tasks to accomplish in one working week. You can choose to try to do all of them, thus probably doing none of them well. This is a good way to feel stressed out. And undermine your career.

Or, you can choose to do the most important ones and leave the others undone. This is a good way to feel like you actually accomplished something. Because you can actually do so.

Making this second choice is much easier and more career-positive than many people think. Rather than let your boss walk all over you only to make you ultimately fail, manage your boss so you succeed.

Here are the steps:

  1. Identify which of the tasks you feel competent doing.
  2. Ask your boss which tasks are most important. What is it your boss really wants done? Focus on those things.
  3. Let your boss know what you will be doing and not doing.

Be sure you lead your boss in the right direction. For example, "Jane, I see you would like to have A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H done this week. So would I. However, we have constraints of time and  other resources so some of these won't get done. I think B, E, and G are quite important, and I'd like to get A well under way. Which of these do you want done?"

This opens a dialogue with your boss. Your boss will identify which items need to be done and which can be deferred. At this time, you can bring up outsourcing, obtaining additional resources, changing the scope, and so on.

If your boss simply snarls back that everything is top priority, then you must do the following:

  1. Choose which tasks you think are most important and that you can realistically accomplish.
  2. Forget the rest.
  3. Make a dedicated effort to find a different boss within your company and a different job outside it.
  4. Document your boss' stupidity. When it comes time to scapegoat you, pull out your notes. If these include dates and times, as well as specific details, they can be very powerful. Of course, this denying your boss the ability to put the blame on you effectively may put you on borrowed time. Plug your network heavily and look for other work.

In this case, your boss is a failure waiting to happen. But notice this is your boss--a person who has risen farther in the organization than you have. Thus, this is a person who has proven skill at scapegoating or other nefarious methods of benefiting from incompetence. You may do everything right, and still get blamed for what your boss does or fails to do. Don't be deluded into thinking there is always justice in the corporate world. Your boss could make a royal mess of things, but effectively pin the blame on you. Your boss gets a raise, and you get canned. This happens all the time.

On the other hand, if your boss values you and simply didn't know s/he was overloading you, your boss will be very glad to have your input so problems can be averted. If you have a boss like that, be as supportive as possible. This doesn't mean you should make unrealistic promises or work yourself into a heart attack. It means you help your boss make the smart decisions your boss is willing to make.

Remember to agree with your boss in public, and disagree in private (assuming there is something to disagree about). Your boss will be more amenable to your views if you do this.

What this "Say no" tip boils down to is identifying the right things to do, and then doing them. If you try to do more than you have time for, you fail to allow enough time for what you really need to be doing. This is an example of where less is more.



Do you want to radically improve how well people in your organization make use of the limited number of hours in each work day?

Contact me to arrange a time when we can talk about a presentation: mark@mindconnection.com. Why arrange a time? So I can give you full attention during the call. There's a really powerful time management tip. Ask me why it works.