A “not-to-do” list is just what you need to upgrade your daily performance, says author and podcast host Tim Ferriss.
“What you don’t do determines what you can do,” he writes, making the following suggestions for eliminating bad habits:
- Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers. Instead, let the call go to voicemail.
- Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night. The former scrambles your priorities for the day, and the latter just gives you insomnia.
- Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time. Instead, ask for a meeting agenda so everyone can prepare and make the best use of time.
- Do not check e-mail constantly. Rather, check email only at set time periods.
- Do not carry a cell phone 24/7. Give yourself at least one day off a week from the digital world.
If we implemented such recommendations, perhaps we could see an increase in our productivity.
Productivity, however, is not what matters most; priority makes the real difference. For followers of Christ, distractions prevent us from prioritizing our calling. If we don’t prioritize our calling, by learning to say “no” and placing boundaries on the things that distract us, then we can weaken our effectiveness in God’s kingdom.
So, how do we change?
Author Sandra Stanley recommends a strategy:
Say NO, so you can say YES.
She advises asking three questions before accepting any new commitment:
- Will a yes to this require a no to something or someone more important to me?
- Is this the season to say yes?
- Do I have the emotional and physical margin to say yes?
Once a person is aware of the costs of saying yes, they may realize they cannot afford to say yes, says an article entitled, “Just Say No” from the October 2017 edition of Family Circle.
The story of Nehemiah from the Bible gives us courage and a script.
After Babylon destroyed his hometown, Nehemiah led a charge to reconstruct the walls of Jerusalem. Despite many challenges, his team completed numerous goals in record time. However, just as things were looking up, two of Nehemiah’s old enemies surfaced. When they were unable to distract the people working on the walls, the duo focused on trying to distract Nehemiah. When they asked Nehemiah to come down from the city walls to meet with them, he gave them a brilliant response:
“I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down” (Nehemiah 6:3).
Nehemiah wasn’t going to bite on their bait because he knew they wished to harm him (Nehemiah 6:2). He also knew his work was too important to stop.
Ephesians 2:10 NLT contains an important message for Christ-followers: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Warren Buffett said: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
In today’s culture, saying no and staying focused is hard work, but the Kingdom of Heaven deserves our best effort.
Let’s answer distractions like Nehemiah did, and say “no” so we can say “yes” to the work to which God has called us.
About the Author: Laura is a blogger and Bible study leader who leverages her experience as a former television news reporter, radio show host, and magazine editor to connect the relevance of Scripture to modern issues. She writes regularly about news and faith on her website.