It took me a long time to learn this. I suffered from the disease to please! When I first started my business, I wanted every client and I would bend over backwards to accommodate them, even if it meant putting my own needs aside. As a result, my schedule was crazy and it was difficult to be productive and stay focused.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to do everything to make your clients/customers happy, but not when you are potentially sacrificing your own well-being and income. There is a smarter way to work and that involves planning and setting boundaries.

In what way does “saying no” improve your business or career?

Here’s an example from my own business. I didn’t plan my time well and so I would book clients all week at all times. This resulted in a chaotic schedule that left me no time for planning, writing, networking, marketing and administrative tasks associated with running a business. At best I had an hour in between appointments and that was not enough time to settle in and focus. I had to prepare for my next client. Because I had no time during the week, I ended up working every weekend. The result: burnout.

When I was working in corporate, I suffered the same disease to please and let everyone else control my schedule. I realize that to some extent we are at the whim of others as an employee. We still have the ability to “say no” to some meetings or ask to move appointments to better fit our schedule.

The first step to take control of your schedule and improve your productivity is to time block. Set aside periods of time during the week when you can close your office door or shut off your phone and do the work necessary to help your business and career.

The second step is to honor your schedule as best you can and “say no” when appropriate.

As an example, I set aside Monday and Friday each week for networking, research, writing, and planning. I fill the other days with client appointments and my radio show.

At my suggestion, one of my coaching clients who owns and manages a small business has started to time block and close her door and this has significantly improved her ability to manage her business. Before, her employees would constantly interrupt her and she was frustrated and unproductive. She now has time each week to do the planning and administrative tasks that she previously was spending nights and weekends doing.

My corporate clients have been able to shift their mindsets from being “doers” all week to thinking more strategically about their careers and setting aside quiet time to reflect and network to build relationships in the company. This is the first step in moving from a manager to a leader.

This all may sound simple but by planning and “saying no” you will see a tremendous improvement in your productivity and well-being.

Imagine: More time to be strategic, to accomplish tasks, to plan, to network and grow your business or build your career, and less stress.

Try it and let me know how it goes!