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I Waved Work Stress And Burnout Goodbye The Day I Became A 'No' Man

It made me happier and healthier, and therefore stronger in all aspects of my life.

10/25/2017 17:33 EDT | Updated 10/25/2017 17:37 EDT

When you look at your days, how often do you say "yes" to unproductive tasks? I get that packing your calendar is sometimes necessary, but it can also lead to big time wasters. You don't have to jump at everybody's requests, and you don't have to give time to people who waste it. So my question to you is this: why be a "yes" person when you can be a "no" person? Here's how you can start using "no" as a tool for maximum success.

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1. "No" means better time management

Ever spend days locked in endless (and pointless) meetings, only to feel as though you've accomplished nothing? You're not alone: an estimated 50 per cent of meetings are a complete waste of time.

The next time you get a meeting request, accept or decline with purpose. Ask yourself: is my attendance really a productive use of my (and my colleagues') time? I've found that in many cases (like strategy meetings, for example), I just get in the way. And going to these meetings takes me away from what I'm actually good at (like visualizing the future of our company).

Managers and CEOs, I hear you. You're in charge, so you probably feel like you always need to be involved. That's just your ego talking. Trust your team and start saying "no" so you can make room for what Richard Branson calls "the bigger yes."

The next time someone tells you "no," ask "why not?"

2. "No" can be a motivator

When someone tells you "no," does it deter you from your goals or does it motivate you to work harder? For me, it's the latter; when someone says I can't do something, I make it my mission to prove them wrong.

In fact, that's exactly how 1-800-GOT-JUNK? became as big as it is today. When I decided to franchise, everyone told me it couldn't be done. But instead of letting naysayers douse my dreams, I used it as the fuel to light a fire that continues to this day.

The next time someone tells you "no," ask "why not?"

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3. "No" sets boundaries

Agreeableness is a good trait to have in social interactions — but in a professional setting, it might not be serving you as well as you think. Saying "yes" to everything can strip away your power to control your own time. People will expect you to be available to pick up extra tasks at all times. This will ultimately keep you from the things that are actually required of your role.

If you want people to value your time, you need to set the precedent that you can (and will) turn them down. It might feel uncomfortable at first but it will get easier — especially when you realize how much time and energy you have for the bigger things. (Side note: that said, if your boss is the one asking, it's probably best to stick to your old M.O. and do the damn thing).

I finally realized that turning down obligations didn't make me a less effective leader.

4. "No" relieves stress and boosts productivity

A jam-packed schedule might make you look like a scheduling wizard (look ma, no breaks!) — but it actually could be the reason you're burnt out, unproductive and, frankly, not fun to be around. When I used to say "yes" to everything, I had to pull 16-hour days just to fit it all in. And rather than becoming the productive powerhouse I hoped, I could barely focus on anything at all.

It got so bad that I started suffering panic attacks and had debilitating anxiety. It began to affect my relationships, my happiness and my ability to continue to grow the business. I finally realized that turning down obligations didn't make me a less effective leader — it made me happier and healthier, and therefore stronger in all aspects of my life.

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