How saying no to great things can lead to something greater

“When I finally quit working last Friday I still had 15 drafts in my mailbox.”

A lovely woman I spoke to about time management shared this with me.

You may recognize the feeling. I do.

When I was on maternity leave with my 3 children (at the time a baby, a 2 year old and a 5 year old) and my husband asked if I wanted to take some time off from caring for the kids, I replied:

“Actually, I just want to finish stacking the dishwasher. I started this morning and have re-started at least 20 times.“

I remember how I could really long for concluding something, anything, in these days. 

Taking a task to completion without interruption.

When we constantly get interrupted or when we work with many things rather than a few, we are not efficient.

Worse, we feel stressed when we do.

Let me quote the remarkable Steve Jobs:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.”

As I often say to my Timefinder clients – first we need to learn to say no to the boring and unimportant stuff (saying no can mean delegating by the way). Then we get to the hard part. Choosing between all great ideas and opportunities.

Saying yes to everything can be a sign of scarcity thinking.

    “If I don’t do this now, I will never have the chance to do it again.”

We may be so afraid of losing an opportunity that we end up with lots of great ideas that we start – but don’t manage to complete.

I know it is not easy. 

One of my biggest fears is to get bored so I typically act on many interesting and fun ideas and opportunities at the same time.

But when you do find the balance, when you focus on just the right amount of great things for you, you will notice that your focus and your efficiency will multiply and you will find yourself in a flow. You will get lots of great things done and you will enjoy it.

I do J. (And yes, it does help that my three sons are teenagers now).


  1. So true! I have millions of ideas and its really important not to follow all of them through, because I'll just end up scattered.

    1. It's wonderful that you have many ideas! I am happy you know the importance of not pursuing each and everyone and ending up scattered. I hope you follow up just the right amount and enjoy making them happen :).