Back in 2016, I read “How to Say No to Things You Want to Do” by Dorie Clark on hbr.org and it reminded me of a blog I read about cleaning out your work “closet” by prioritizing your work activities and putting them into “piles.”

One of those piles is to “throw out” – stop doing certain tasks. You can do this for yourself and/or with the team you are managing. I find “throwing out” to be one of the hardest things to do, but Clark takes an interesting approach to accomplish this.

She recommends saying “no” to ensure that you don’t add activities that are distractions. As Clark says, these tasks may be good things, but do they help you achieve your key goals?  Try getting into a habit of screening new activities by asking yourself, “Do they help me achieve my/my team’s goals?”

I especially like two of Clark’s questions:

  1. What is the opportunity cost?
  2. What is the emotional/physical cost?

Time is the most valuable and constrained resource we have. How often does a “good thing” come across our desk but you don’t take the time to understand the opportunity cost of this activity versus other activities critical to meeting your goals?  Likewise, our health is so important yet we often don’t take it into consideration when agreeing to a task.

Does the benefit of a new project outweigh the opportunity costs of other activities and your emotional/physical well-being? If not, start to say “no” to these activities. By never picking them up, there is less to “throw out” later!

This blog post was originally published in 2016.

Joni Lindquist, MBA, CFP®, is a Principal at Aspyre Wealth Partners, specializing in Financial Planning and Executive/Career Coaching. For help with your specific situation contact Joni Lindquist at jlindquist@AspyreWealth.com, (913) 345-1881 or visit our website at AspyreWealth.com. We help successful people Master What’s Next® – whatever phase of life they are in.

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