Here is THE most powerful question to stop you drowning in overwhelm:

“𝘈𝘮 𝘐 𝘴𝘢𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨 No 𝘦𝘯𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩?”

Steve Jobs famously said “I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

He was right. You can’t spell “innovation” without “no.”

But in the 2020s, we can take his insight and swap the word “innovation” for “progress.”

If you want to progress right now, you need to say no. A lot.

As a business adviser, I’ve seen the topic come up several times this week alone. And I’ve got a fix for you.

This week was full. Amongst all the other things that filled my schedule, I (virtually) sat down with 12 different business owners to discuss their wins, challenges, and projections.

In the evenings, I had in-depth conversations of a different nature—with parents who were discussing their struggles with distance learning, competing priorities and how to still move the needle at home and at work.

I spoke with a clothing manufacturer in Europe.

I spoke with an events coordinator in Latin America.

I spoke with a mama who does part-time marketing work in Nevada.

They each had a common problem: OVERWHELM.

Now, these are all driven people who aren’t trying to sit out 2020 or accept all the reasons why progress may not be possible this year.

Each stood up, pressed on, and drove hard for the wins. But each was overwhelmed.

Everything is barking for our attention right now. Think about it:

  • Your business is probably having to pivot because of the pandemic.
  • Your kids may need to do their schooling by distance learning.
  • You’ve got Zoom calls lined up until, well, forever.
  • You’re living through the greatest period of uncertainty we’ve ever faced in our lifetime.

It costs a lot to be you right now. The demands are greater, the stakes are higher. Just to go to the office or the grocery store takes thought, preparation, and concern.

To manage your team, their focus, motivation—it is all more complicated and more taxing.

Heck my daughter’s common core math is enough to bring a grown woman to her knees, and that was never on my radar until 2020.

But we don’t just close up our businesses and head home. We don’t sit on our couch in a Snuggie and wait for it to end. We show up, we get creative, and we start saying NO. A lot.


What do I do now?

Let’s get practical and bring that overwhelm under control. How? Do this:

Create a Yes – No – Parking lot List and start putting your business and life on the list.

We need to follow Derek Sivers’s years-old advice now more than ever “If it’s not a hell yeah, it’s a no.”

Let’s talk through the mechanics.

I’m old school, so I love a notebook paper folded lengthwise with Yes in one column—list all the things you are saying hell Yes to in that column.

In the other column is your No list. This is where I want you to put your focus. Add to it, and then add some more. Then on the back of the notebook page is the Parking lot list for things that you aren’t ready to say no to or want to revisit later (for those non-committal types that shy away from binary decisions, I see you…)

You can fill the No list liberally. For example, any of these could go on there:

  • Reviewing the marketing plans before they go out.
  • Revamping your CRM.
  • Launching a new product line.
  • Picking up your dry cleaning. (No one can see your wrinkled pants on Zoom- bonus).

You don’t need to limit yourself to simple tasks. You can also put emotions on there, such as overwhelm, guilt, and resentment.  Feelings that are riding shotgun for many.

What goes on your No list gets removed from your schedule and your mental real estate. It no longer gets to occupy valuable space in your brain.

So, those clients I spoke to this week: they weighed in on what made it on their No lists. Here are some real examples of what they told me:

  • “I unsubscribed from emails.”
  • “I canceled a weekly Zoom call with a colleague.”
  • “I delayed the launch of a new software product.”
  • “I stopped a vacation that was trying to be salvaged against all odds.”
  • “I gave up my resentment for ‘others who seem to have it easier’.”
  • “I didn’t mail out Christmas cards.”

There was a collective big hard No to all of these things from my clients. The simple act of writing these things on their No list created visible relief in their tiny Zoom faces.

It was unmistakable and powerful.

The decreased stress and increased focus on what really mattered in their lives was critical. Now it’s time to do your own list.

Need some inspiration for what should be on your No list? Look at what you have planned this week. What about next week? How much of it is truly essential?

In this season, we are pushing to do big things in trying times and it is taxing us. You must move your business ahead and balance your personal life in tandem with a global pandemic. Give yourself some room to breathe with your No list. Enjoy the relief of saying NO from the mountain tops like a scene from the Sound of Music.

As the saying goes, we must protect our Yeses with a thousand Nos.

What are you saying NO to this week?


Take action

  1. Create your Yes – No – Parking lot List. And feverishly fill in that No column. Make it a mile long.
  2. As one of my clients suggested, at the end of the workday ask yourself, “Did I say No to enough things today?”

And if you need a hand making this a reality, let’s talk. I help business owners like you to stay productive and move past overwhelm. Get in touch.

This concept was taken from Module 4 of my digital course MultiplyMe™ How to get 3x the work done, in less hours a day.

Find out more and get the MultiplyMe™ course here: www.pivot-me.com/MultiplyMe