The Ultimate Productivity Hack is Saying No.

In can be tough to say no. Not only can we end up feeling guilty for refusing, but we are left wondering if we missed out. It’s tempting to say “yes” to every opportunity just in case it’s the best use of our time. But it rarely, if ever, works out this way. In fact, as James Clear points out, the opposite is usually true.

The words “yes” and “no” get used in comparison to each other so often that it feels like they carry equal weight in conversation. In reality, they are not just opposite in meaning, but of entirely different magnitudes in commitment.

When you say no, you are only saying no to one option. When you say yes, you are saying no to every other option.

I like how the economist Tim Harford put it, “Every time we say yes to a request, we are also saying no to anything else we might accomplish with the time.” Once you have committed to something, you have already decided how that future block of time will be spent.