If you’re anything like I used to be, you have a million tasks and events swirling around that you have to handle and you could really use some help to be more productive. Well I can let you in on one of my big secrets. You just have to say no.

There is absolutely no middle ground between yes and no. If something doesn’t fit into your priority list, you have to start drawing a hard line between yes and no, and decline to take on anything that doesn’t mesh with your already determined list of priorities. This is one of the most important disciplines that you can develop to be more productive.

Now I can understand if it’s hard for you to say no. Not being able to say “no” stems from not having absolute clarity and conviction about the direction you want to take your business and your life. While it’s important for you to gain clarity around those areas, it’s equally important to start saying no to things. If you’re not comfortable just saying “no” you can always say “no, thank you.”

Often people overcommit themselves because they are trying to please everyone and are afraid to disappoint people. You may have trouble saying no because you are a pleaser. If you feel like you need to provide an explanation for why you are saying no, just say: “That sounds really great. I wish there were more time in the day but unfortunately I just don’t have the time to take this on. Thank you for thinking of me.”

“That sounds really great. I wish there were more time in the day but unfortunately I just don’t have the time to take this on. Thank you for thinking of me.”

This secret is something that some of the most successful people on the planet are experts at. What makes them so productive and successful has a lot to do with what they don’t do (what they say no to) rather than what they do.

When someone asked Steve Jobs what he was most proud of creating, he said “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” And when Warren Buffet was asked the secret to his success, he said “for every 100 opportunities that are brought to me, I say no 99 times.”

Yes is easy to do but you only have so much time in the day. For most people the ability to do more is impossible because you’re already overwhelmed and working yourself to exhaustion.  So remember— doing more is not the answer. Say no to more things so that you can say yes to the right things that matter to your future and your growth. This is the key to effectively and efficiently achieving your goals. So start right now. What will you say no to today, so that you create space for your personal and professional development?