You are probably very aware of how cholesterol and bad fats in your diet can lead to a dangerous buildup of plaque on your arteries. That sludge slows you down and could eventually stop you in your tracks. But you know that, and you probably pay attention to what you put in your mouth.
Unfortunately, you’re probably less aware of the task plaque that is slowing you down. All the low value, time consuming activities you agree to—they build up and stop you from getting to what is most important. I can’t think of a better time than “No”vember to start to reverse that trend.
Here are 10 things to say “No” to this month.
- No to the alerts. Turn off your email alert function. Say “no” to incessant interruptions and breaks in your concentration. Tell yourself that you can turn it back on December 1st, but by then you won’t want to.
- No to bad meetings. Find one meeting invite that you can decline. Let a more junior person go in your place as job enrichment or just leave the chair empty. Pick the meeting that has no pre-set agenda or is always a waste of time.
- No to hitting send. Stop yourself from sending at least 5 emails you start writing this month. Use the email to get your thoughts clear and then use your legs to walk over to the person or your finger to dial the phone.
- No to staying late. Focus during the day and make serious headway (see point #1), then get up and walk out the door at the end of the day. While you’re at it, say “no” to taking your computer home with you. Do this twice as often as you normally do.
- No to automated emails. Pick 3 automated email lists you’re subscribed to and unsubscribe. Whether it’s automatic blog feeds, daily horoscopes, or a retailer’s continual emails about sales, do your Inbox a favor and prune the list. If mine is the one you cut, it’s been nice knowing you.
- No to downers. For the entire month of November, refuse to partake in gossip, complaining, moaning, and other forms of unproductive venting. Either change the subject or smile and walk away.
- No to meaningless work. It might take some thinking to figure out what they are, but find 3 tasks that really don’t add value. Writing a report that gets filed into the abyss; making a presentation look pretty when all that’s needed is the bullet points—refuse to waste your time.
- No to rushing. Choose not to hurry your kids everywhere. Choose not to skip a bathroom break or lunch. Choose to take a breath between meetings. Say “no” to running around like a chicken with your head cut off in November. Choose to go at a productive, deliberate, and sustainable pace.
- No to clutter. This is a big one for me. When people hand me paper, I tend to keep it and then disappear beneath a growing pile. Say “no” to handouts or scan the paper and throw it away. See if you can have a clean desk for the whole month of November.
- No to the knee-jerk “No.” Ok, now that you’ve made all this great space by saying “no” to the useless things, now you can STOP saying “no” to the things that make life great. Don’t say “no” when your kid asks to go to the park. Don’t say “no” when you coworker asks you to grab lunch. Don’t say “no” to going to the gym.
When your coworkers notice the change and ask what’s going on, tell them you’re making the most of “No”vember. Maybe they will want in on the action.