Simply put, when you have less on your plate, you have more time to dedicate to the items that are there, and to do them with 100% attention.  If you say yes to everything, you are continuously having to split your attention to multiple things, and there is no way you can get it all done at your best.  Delegate, get things off your plate.

No can also be not now, like I can’t do this until the other things are done.  I have a hard time teaching this to people, about blocking out time on their calendar to get something done.  If you have multiple tasks, you need to block out more time, and get one done at a time.  Turn off Outlook alters, put the phone on silent, remove distractions.  If you want to succeed and giving something 100%, your need to give it your 100% attention.  Of course while I am writing this I have the Stanley Cup playoff game on.  The issue, I cannot tell you what’s happening in the game, it is background noise.   But as soon as this is done, going to rewind and catch up on the game.

So I can’t find a graph that I used for years, but it is a graph showing how productive software developers against the number of tasks (systems) they are coding.  When a developer has a single application he or she is working on, they are 100% efficient.  Now you think giving them a second application, they would be 50% efficient in each, but it actually drops down to about 33%, give them a 3rd and they are 10% efficient, and after that they are so inefficient.  The proof is when we hire a new developer.  To bring them on slowly we give them one application to work on.  Once we see how competent they are, we give them more.  After the third application we start wondering if we hired the right person, they were so productive a while ago.  This plays out everywhere I worked until I figured it out.  Now I keep my team somewhat productive, by teaching them to say no to doing more, and if they have to, but blocking out time.

The goal is how do you say no, how do you tell someone that you can’t do something for them.  Or as my teenage daughter does, is say yes to one activity, then a 2nd one that comes along and is better.  What to do?  Its really simple, be open and honest.  I have xyz to do, you would be the nth Priority on my list.   Most managers understand, some will say “this is the highest priority” which you say, then you are giving me the OK to go to the others and say they will be delayed.   To me this is basic as a rope with three ends tug of war.  On one end is quality, the other is time, and the last is number of tasks.   If you increase any one, it will affect the others.  If you want to keep in balance, you must be assured you have enough time, or be willing to sacrifice quality.  Often the best way to keep the balance, say no.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  Thanks for reading.