“Saying no is actually saying yes to other things.” — Patrick Rhone
Whenever we say “yes” to something – and we want to do that something well – we have to say “no” to other things. Saying “no” can wind up being a “not right now” for some things, but for many it becomes much more permanent. As you’d expect, some of the things you turn down are things you really want to do, but know deep down that they will either take you off course or simply can’t be done to full effectiveness.
I know this all too well.
You see, I’ve always been someone who has taken on all challenges. I’ve also always been someone who has had many tasks left undone rather than seen them through to completion. Only in recent years have I gotten better at whittling down my “yes” items and adding to the list of “no” items. I’ve seen an improvement in workflow and output as a result, but it’s been hard to turn down (or turn away) things I really want to do.
ProductiVardy is an example of something I let go of before it became to intertwined in the fabric of my online life. I know I made the right call in retiring it, but it still took some time to decide to do so. I still fall down when making these calls (as evidenced with a recent video project that I took on which I wound up over-committing myself in the process and let it suffer until it was eventually assigned elsewhere), and while those times are far less frequent than before, they won’t go away completely. That’s not because of my unwillingness (or inability) to do them, but more of my unwillingness (or inability) to say…“no”.
So…what items have I said “no” to over the past few years so I could build up my current online work and portfolio?
- Screenwriting/Playwriting: I actually was more into this when I started exploring writing than I was in diving into productivity. In fact, one of the things I was trying to orchestrate was a workflow that would allow me to move from my work at Costco into a screenwriting career (whether it be for film or television). Instead, I wound up spending more time learning about productivity than working on the actual reason I was trying to become more productive in the first place. I’m not abandoning my plans to write for the screen (and stage), but they aren’t at the forefront at the moment.
- Web series: This goes hand in hand with screenwriting. The troupe I co-founded was working on a web series/TV series that hasn’t left my mind since we started. I’d love to get back into it at some point, but it is on the backburner (sitting in a Workspace in Asana called “Writing – Stage/Screen”, along with a few other projects I was developing with the other members of the troupe, the other co-founder, and on my own).
- Musical endeavours: I can play what’s known as “campire guitar”, meaning that I can fake it well enough to play passably around a campfire. I’d really like to get back into making music again, as singing and creating music is another one of my passions. But until I’m able to give it more time and energy, it isn’t a priority.
As for my “yes” items (not including my paying gig at Lifehack), they are as follows:
- This here weblog
- Mikes on Mics
- The Front Nine
- Other Productivityist Products2
My “yes” items keep me very busy, and my “no” items are there to remind me of what I’d like to do once the “yea” items either become self-sustaining or no longer necessary. But there is one other “yes” item I failed to mention, because it is more of a “absolute” item than all of the others…combined.
My family. They are the absolute. Without them, all of the other “yes” items seem more like “less” items.
What are your “yes” items? What about your “no” items? Are some of them more like “not right now” items or “necessary for now” items? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo credit: Anne-lise Heinrichs (CC BY 2.0)
1After an 8 month absence, I finally got something up there. The goal: add a post every two weeks. Doing so will hopefully keep my comedy chops primed (as opposed to past prime time).
2These include some workshops, talks, a couple of more books, etc. So not that much, really. (Sheesh.)