While talking to people who do a superhuman job at managing their time, founder and investor Bill Trenchard discovered that one of the most common ways they avoid wasting time is by simply saying “no.”
As your [work] becomes more prominent, you’re only going to get more of everything. More people reaching out through LinkedIn, email, invitations to connect, to go to coffee, to ask for a favor. It’s death by paper cuts. Inevitably, a childhood acquaintance from 20 years ago who you can barely remember will ask you for introductions to all your influential friends at Facebook. This is when you have to say, “No.” Saying no is so hard. It’s hard because you want to pay it forward. So many people have helped you. You want to do the same. But you have to draw the line somewhere, and there are ways to make it easier.
He suggests using templates; canned responses for all the common situations where you might find yourself saying no. Here’s an example:
Great to hear from you. I hope all is well. Fortunately, my company is starting to take off, and I’m under extreme pressure to deliver against some ambitious goals… Unfortunately [I’m not] able to connect right now.
What’s unique about this response is that it blocks further communication. Do it nicely in a way that truthfully explains the situation, but don’t leave things open-ended.
Saying no (when respectful and structured ) deflects distractions and ensures that the right projects are completed. The creative process is paralyzed when you are juggling things that you wish you never committed to. Guard your time from things that don’t warrant your immediate attention or are counterproductive.