Saying “No”: How One Simple Word Can Boost Your Productivity

Last Updated: 

October 19, 2022

Online Business Startup

If your boss, your mother, or your best friend asked you to drop everything right now to do them a favour, would you do it?

If you answered yes, you might be what they call a people pleaser.

There’s nothing wrong with putting others first and helping those you care about when they need it. The problem comes when you say yes so often that it affects your own productivity.

Sometimes, it’s okay to say no. It might even double your productivity!

So, let’s talk about how one simple word can change your life for the better.

Focusing On What You Need To Do

Everyone at your workplace is assigned tasks that need to be finished by day’s end. But your fellow colleagues don’t always seem to pull their own weight ...

Since you never say no to your boss, you allow the jobs of your peers to intrude into your already packed schedule.

You might even have to put your jobs on the back burner to help someone else.

Putting Your Tasks First

You’ll never catch up with your own work if you keep taking on the workload of everybody else. You’re setting yourself up to miss your own due dates and deadlines. This can be a crushing feeling.

It seems like your workload never gets smaller, no matter how hard you work. You lose motivation to work hard since hard work doesn’t even make a dent in your to-do list.

So, make a point to say no unless all of your own jobs and tasks are done (and done well).

Setting Boundaries & Drawing the Line

When you first started at your current workplace, you probably did whatever you could to impress your boss.

But you realised something along the way:

Your boss has realised that he can toss extra tasks onto your workload without a second thought. Meanwhile, your co-workers slack off! In a way, you’re being used.

Standing Up for Yourself

As much as you want to be a dependable employee, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re not getting paid extra for this work.

So, you’re overwhelming yourself for no reason (you may not even get a “thank you” out of it).

To improve your own productivity, you need to learn when to say no.

If your schedule is already overloaded, tell your boss that you don’t think you’ll be able to get to the assignment by the due date. Make it clear that you’re not the person who will simply clean up what others don’t finish.

This will also teach your supervisors that you have boundaries and limits. And when you feel respected in the workplace, you’ll feel valued and your productivity will increase!

Giving Yourself Some Much-Needed Time Off

Maybe you truly enjoy working and feeling like a productive member of society.

You might not even realise how dedicated you are to your job. You don’t even look up from the screen at work until it’s time to clock out.

Dedication is great, but everyone has a limit.

Take Your Breaks

We’ve all been in situations where a boss handed us an extra task just as we were meant to go on lunch.

It’s a tough spot to be in, especially when your boss asks you directly.

The problem is that breaks are more than just a part of the contract you signed when you started working there. They’re absolutely necessary for your mental health.

At a certain point, you become overwhelmed by working nine hours every day. It’s important to have at least a few minutes of downtime in the middle.

Take your well-deserved breaks to turn your mind off and relax for a bit. You’ll return from your break more motivated and focused than ever.

Keeping Your Mental Health in Mind

You’ve already proven yourself to be a good worker. That’s why your boss is constantly piling up jobs for you to do, right?

The problem occurs when work is your entire life. At a certain point, you’ll crash and lose the motivation you once had.

Limiting Your Workload

Saying no is about more than trying to stay on top of your to-do list.

Yes, you might be able to handle a few extra tasks. But when you take on too much and have an unrealistic deadline approaching, quality is always going to be on the back burner.

This can ruin your mood and self-esteem.

That’s especially the case if you put a lot of emphasis on your quality of work.

Saying no to new jobs allows you to put more time into the tasks you’re already working on. That means you’ll produce better work and have a greater sense of self-worth.

The Dangers of Burning Yourself Out

Even the most productive employees have limits. The problem is that saying yes all the time is loaded with negative effects of overwork.

These include:

  • Lack of self-esteem due to a perceived lack of productivity
  • A sense of being overwhelmed
  • Anxiety about meeting deadlines and due dates
  • Lack of motivation since the workload seems endless
  • Mood changes like irritability and lashing out
  • Greater amounts of stress and even a risk of chronic health conditions

There are obviously situations where you just can’t say no at work.

But, you also need to think about your own mental and emotional health and how they play a role in your productivity. When you’re healthy, you’ll be happier and more productive!


When you signed on to do your current job, you knew about the types of tasks and jobs that you would be asked to do.

It’s impressive that you can do your job and then some. But at the same time, saying yes to everything will eventually take its toll on you.

Knowing when to say no will impact your emotional health, mental health, and workplace productivity. If you learn how and when to use this word, you’ll be much better off!

Author Bio:

Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specialises in all things apartment organisation, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Paramount 3800 to help them with their online marketing.

Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash

People Also Like to Read...

Don't forget to check out our Case Studies and also how Business Coaching can help your business. If you're ready to talk further and get the full coaching experience you can book a FREE 30-Minute Coaching Session.