The tips mentioned in this article are likely to contradict everything you’ve ever heard about productivity. Indeed, we should try everything in order to succeed. This article brings us upside down technique for daily productivity. 

About the famous “Say yes!” books are written and movies are recorded. We all heard that we need to visualize the goal we want to achieve in detail, no one likes to be rejected, and intentionally setting up impossible tasks simply sounds nonsensical. Still, if you keep reading, you might be surprised – because we argue that if you want to improve your productivity, you need to make an impossible task, stop visualizing your goals, say “no”, and more often refuse.


Productivity tip #1: Be rejected

Fear of rejection, besides being a common cause of love problems, creates difficulties in other spheres of life. Probably you never felt a rejection as something positive. What can be positive when someone says “no” to your idea?

Although our refusal is never a pleasant experience, it can stimulate creativity and result in great achievements. Refusal can be interpreted as an exemption from other rules, exclusion from the group can be taken as a cessation of subjecting to group norms and thus using rejection to move the boundaries of innovativeness.

The positive side

The positive side of the rejection is well illustrated by a study by Sharon Kim of John Hopkins University. Two groups of subjects received personality tests. They were told that they might be called back to solve similar tests, and maybe they will not. Two weeks later, both groups returned and received new assignment tasks. One group of respondents was said to join the other group after solving these tasks, while the other group was said to only solve those tasks but will not be connected to that other group afterward.

The assignments they received were a “Remote Associates Test”. The group that was “rejected” (the one who was said to not join the other group) achieved far better results than the one that was “accepted” (which knew it would join the second group after the test). The research author concludes that social rejection can positively influence creative thinking, especially in people with a developed sense of individualism.

Instead of breaking your mind thinking about why you refuse to dislike yourself or your ideas, accept rejection as a newcomer to explore new opportunities.

Stop talking “yes”

I’m sure that we all often find ourselves in situations where we would rather refuse, but we accept that because of the “rules of successful communication” and “social conventions” demand that no call should be rejected if we want to be successful, accepted in society and open to all life experiences. It is much easier to say “yes” than “no”.

Saying “no” more often, or refusing a certain part of the proposals that come to us, we release our time of unnecessary distraction and interference. Which is leaving you more space to carry out tasks, meeting the goals and rest that is necessary to maintain a high degree of concentration – a precondition for productivity. Of course, this tactic results in passing many things that you would experience by guiding the motto “Say Yes”, but given that this is a text of productivity, “Say No” seems to be a better strategy for achieving and maintaining it.

We can in many ways say “no”. The Journal of Consumer Research found in its research that “I can not” and “I do not” achieve different results when it comes to “improving productivity by rejecting”. Respondents who have been instructed to say “I can not eat chocolate” (“I can not eat chocolate”) cuddled with sweet temptation in 61% of cases. The second group respondents said “I do not eat chocolate” and their score was 25% better – only 36% of the cases ate chocolate.

Similar research

Similar research was conducted on one wellness seminar. Thirty women participated and each was told to make a decision on how to improve their health. They then divided them into three groups: the first group received the instruction that each time they are tempted to leave their plan – “they say no”.

This group was “control” because it did not get any specific strategy. The other group should apply a “can’t” strategy (eg “Can not miss training”). The third group should apply a “do not” strategy (eg “Do not miss training”). After ten days the results were as follows: in the first group (“just say no”) 3 out of 10 members managed to implement their healthier plan for all 10 days. In the other “can’t” strategy, only one out of 10 members remained in their plan, while in the third group (“do not” strategy), 8 out of 10 consistently implemented their plan.

How to apply this research in your life?

Every day we have a lot of temptation: waitress offers us deserts, we want to skip training, continuous notifications about new messages, tune-ups, updates … It seems that our decisions in these situations are not of great importance, but consider their long-term cumulative effect. Refusing things that deconcentrate or break away from the road can be made easier by prescribing which things you simply do not do (“I do not”).

It can be a long list of points like “do not drink,” “do not miss lectures,” or say “I do not split my mobile while I’m learning”. This will help you avoid potential temptations. Also, it is useful to share those “rules” (which you have yourself determined) with your family and friends or place them in a prominent place in your room. So you will have greater responsibility to stick to these rules.


Stop visualizing your goals

As far as setting goals can positively affect productivity, it can harm it too much if we dedicate too much time to them. To understand, there is nothing wrong with the work of drawing up plans and goals, but often our images of the ideal future, which will come as a result of the devoted work, can entice the imagination that takes us out of that devoted work and thus excludes this ideal future. “Fantasies about success cut off energy from ambition,” said H. Kappes and G. Oettingen of the University of New York.

That kind of feeling that lurks us when we firmly set a goal and, as many sources advise, visualize it, it actually makes us largely unable to really achieve it. By visualizing the goal, we get the feeling that we have already achieved it. It relaxes us, we feel satisfied while leaving the fantasy. This is how we reduce motivation and ambition, we lose the working elan because we are mentally brought to the position as if we have already completed the long and difficult journey to its perfect goal, while he is still ahead of us. Instead, Kappes and Oettingen advise trying to apply critical visualization. Critical visualization takes into account all real obstacles, negative factors, and possible bad endings. And failure should be counted as a realistic option.

Make an impossible task

Intentionally assign to yourself or your employees a task that you know is unrealistic to expect to be completed within a certain time frame. Whenever you start thinking, “It makes no sense to do this when I know that I will not succeed anyway,” just keep working. The purpose of this is to “shock” your brain, put it under too much load. Like when you lift heavy loads in the gym, which can hardly be lifted several times. The brain, under such extra load, activates and develops, similar to our muscles, increasing its capacity. After such an “impossible” task, each “normal” task seems easy and allows you to do more and better.