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Today I want to share a very simple, yet very critical time-management skill that usually is underestimated.

But not having this skill can seriously sabotage your best efforts to get things done and to move towards your goals in life.

The skill I’m talking about is to say no — primarily in your mind — to everything that is not what you really want.

Sure there are a gazillion opportunities out there waiting for you to jump on them. There is so much information and advice waiting to devour your attention. And of course, there are dozens of things on your to-do list waiting to get checked off.

But what is the one thing that is all about you?

What one thing is expressing your core dream?

Absolute Clarity

Saying no in your mind doesn’t mean becoming ignorant. Instead saying no helps to purify of your mind. It clears the fog and makes space for what is more important.

Saying no means clarity. [Tweet this!]

Clarity.

This is just a word, but have you ever experienced how this really feels?

When you a 100% certain that this is it. This is the thing you want to do — nothing else. It’s a beautiful situation to be in.

It’s that kind of clarity that empowers you in every action you take.

Because you just know. You don’t have to think and ponder and search for new ways. You just know your way, and you just go it.

Of course, this presupposes that you also really know what you want. Otherwise, there would be confusion. Because there would just be a big question mark in that space where your BIG YES should be ;-)

What is Your Big Yes?

When we take a look at time management there are two fundamental questions for every single task:

1. Is this urgent now?
2. And is this really important to me? (as in your #1 priority)

Regardless of how you answer the first question, eventually you only want to spend your time on to-dos where you answer the second question with yes.

Time management often seems complicated. But at it’s core, it all comes down to this one single thing:

You only want to spend your time on what is really important to you. [Tweet this!]

This is the essence of clarity.

And it sounds easy, but in reality it’s not. Because in reality it can be difficult to distinguish between urgent and important.

Separate the Urgent from the Important

For instance we have everything that you say is important, but it’s not. That means there is a tendency in all of us to rationalize things to be important, when in reality they are either one of two things:

1) an escape (its really neither important, nor urgent)
2) an illusion (of importance, because it is urgent)

So when it comes to being productive in your working time (not necessarily in your spare time), you want to eliminate these two.

CURE 1)

The first is what we call procrastination.

We know that we’re escaping, but we still do it somehow.

And the solution to this is to have a strong enough why. A strong reason, a goal that drives us forward — even through fear — because it’s so compelling.

CURE 2)

And when you’re faced with a lot of tasks that are not important, but seem pressing, urgent… then it’s finally time for you to say no to them.

Imagine… if you could eliminate half of the tasks you have on your to-do list right now, by finally realising that these are actually not important to you.

So ask yourself these critical question:

1. Is what I do right now having a long-term impact for reaching my goal?
2. If yes, is this my #1 priority right now?

About

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13 comments

  1. Comment by Ludvig Sunström

    Ludvig Sunström Reply February 9, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Well said/written, Myrko!

    I think one of the best practical applications of this, is when it comes to browsing the Internet. There’s way too much information and “cool stuff” to click on. But 90 % of it has nothing to do with what you’re currently trying to accomplish.

  2. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply February 10, 2014 at 5:05 am

    Spot on Ludvig, very good example!

  3. Comment by Remez Sasson

    Remez Sasson Reply February 10, 2014 at 11:12 am

    A good post Myrko,

    You are absolutely right about separating the urgent from the important.

    Often, we make believe that certain activities are important, and therefore, we should take care of them first. However, many of these activities are just time wasters.

    There is often, a tendency to procrastinate the urgent things, because they require time and effort. We build in our mind the illusion that there are other, more important things to do, which justify our procrastination and not taking care of the really urgent things.

  4. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply February 10, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Yes Remez, if we have a powerful BIG WHY that pulls us towards the important tasks, we are golden (1).

    To stop doing urgent, but unimportant tasks, we have to say no (2).

  5. Comment by Wan Muhammad Zulfikri

    Wan Muhammad Zulfikri Reply February 12, 2014 at 2:38 am

    One place that I find it so hard to say “no” is while I’m in a bookstore. Looking at all those books, I’m tempted to think that I should buy everything I am interested even when it doesn’t fulfil my needs currently.

    I guess I forgot to ask Why I’m going there to the first place.

    Thanks for the reminder, Myrko.

  6. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply February 12, 2014 at 4:31 am

    Haha very nice example, Wan. I just bought 4 kindle books myself two days ago and started 1 up to page 20 so far ;-) This happens to all of us — we want to do more than we actually can. Inside, we need to say “no”.

    Limit yourself to get more done.

  7. Comment by Wan Muhammad Zulfikri

    Wan Muhammad Zulfikri Reply February 12, 2014 at 4:49 am

    @Myrko Thum:

    “Limit yourself to get more done.”

    I’ll do that next time, Myrko. :D

    I have almost 10 books fresh in a bag right now. Oh well…at least one’s almost finished(it’s a short one)..

  8. Comment by Lisha

    Lisha Reply February 24, 2014 at 1:11 am

    Hey Myrko, This post is coming at a time in my life when I am just finally realizing this and so reading this post just gives me that much more motivation and enthusiasm for doing what it takes to finally accomplish my number one goal in life at the moment, and not let anything stop me. There are so many excuses, which seem rational, but we’re actually able to control whether we let these things take over or not. And now’s the time for me to take control! :)

    Thanks Myrko!

    ~Lisha

  9. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply February 24, 2014 at 4:55 am

    Awesome Lisha. Let’s focus on what’s our highest priority and let’s tart some positive momentum here!

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  11. Comment by Troy S.

    Troy S. Reply March 1, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Remember when Derek Sivers said, “No more yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! or no.”? I try to live by that.

  12. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply March 2, 2014 at 5:06 am

    That philosophy should serve you—and anybody else—well, Troy.

  13. Comment by Suseela Vasudevam

    Suseela Vasudevam Reply March 7, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Interesting article.

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