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Weekly 3: The value of saying "No"

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Summary: Hack your to-do list, not your time. Listen for your enthusiasm. Treat your indecision as a
 

Idea Journal Weekly 3

March 31 · Issue #80 · View online
We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

Summary: Hack your to-do list, not your time. Listen for your enthusiasm. Treat your indecision as a decision. (~5 min read)

#1. “Knowing what you’ll say no to is better than knowing what you’ll say yes to.”
Entrepreneurs Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson write in their book It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work that most life hacks, sleep hacks, and time-management hacks don’t work.
These hacks are all driven by an obsession with trying to squeeze more time out of the day.
But as Fried and Heinemeier Hansson point out, rearranging your daily patterns to find more time isn’t the problem: “Too much shit to do is the problem.”
The way to get more done is to have less to do – you have to say no to claw back time.
Instead of shuffling 12 things so that you can do them in a different order, eliminate 7 of the 12 things, and you’ll then have more time left for the remaining 5.
It’s not about time-management, it’s about “obligation elimination.”
At their company Basecamp, Fried and Heinemeier Hansson have been ruthless about eliminating work that doesn’t need to be done as well as work they don’t want to do.
They tell a story about simplifying the payment process for both their customers and themselves.
At one point, Basecamp accepted payment by credit card and check. Credit card processing was automated, but the process for accepting checks was manual: the checks were mailed in, so someone had to receive them, process them, deal with incorrect amounts, and ensure that each check was associated with the right account.
In response to this, some companies might have hired a person to process the checks, or come up with some way to use money, technology, or time to try to make the process more automated.
But Fried and Heinemeier Hansson simply eliminated the process altogether.
They admit that the change turned away some revenue and some customers, but for them it was more of a trade away: “We traded some revenue for some time.”
#2. Do it only if you really care
Author and entrepreneur Derek Sivers writes on his blog that when you feel over-committed and scattered, you should use the HELL YEAH! or No rule to decide which things to spend your time on.
For each event you’re invited to and every request to start a new project, if your reaction isn’t HELL YEAH!, then just say No.
When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to dedicate yourself to the stuff that you really want to do – that rare commitment that makes you say HELL YEAH!
As Sivers points out, we’re all busy and in many cases have taken on too much: “Saying yes to less is the way out.”
#3. “If you can’t decide, the answer is no.”
In a Periscope video, entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant says that our biology is at odds with the number of choices available to us in modern society.
We evolved in tribes of 150 people, and in that context if you passed on one option, a second option was unlikely to come along.
But in modern society, we’re inundated with options: there are over 7 billion people on the planet, we’re connected to most of them through the internet, and each of us potentially has access to hundreds or thousands of career opportunities.
It can be hard deciding among all the available options.
To make this process easier, Ravikant uses the following decision-making heuristic: If you can’t decide, the answer is no.
For example, say you’re facing one of the below decisions:
  • Should I marry this person?
  • Should I take that job?
  • Should I buy this house?
  • Should I move to that city?
  • Should I go into business with this person?
These are all difficult decisions, and their effects can last far into your future. Because of that, you should only say yes if you’re relatively certain.
You can never be absolutely certain, but you should have a positive feeling about your choice: “You have to internalize it in your gut and in your heart – you have to really want something before you go for it.”
If you find yourself creating a spreadsheet to weigh your options or making a list of pros and cons, “forget it.”
The the answer is no.
Quote of the Week
“The ultimate productivity hack is saying no.”
- Productivity expert James Clear on Twitter
Idea Journal
Idea Journal
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