i can't

To pump up productivity and become ridiculously efficient, you must be exceptionally proficient at prioritization. Here's a tip to help you contextualize your priorities, eradicate the word "can't" from your lexicon and ultimately improve efficiency.

"X is not a priority."

Use this phrase in place of negative phrases like "I can't" to shift ownership back to you and emphasize your priorities. Watch how a powerless sentiment turns to empowerment (or sometimes, a reality check) in the following sample scenarios:

  • "I can't take on another project until tax season is over" becomes "Taking on another project is not a priority until tax season is over."
  • "I can't take a vacation this year" becomes "Taking a vacation this year is not a priority."
  • "I can't make time to exercise during the workweek" becomes "Making time to exercise during the workweek is not a priority."

Notice how in the first example, the subject at first seems helpless and overloaded, then realistic and in control with the proper prioritization.

In the second, the subject gets a little reality check -- is vacation time really not a priority? If it is a priority, we can dive deeper: what's stopping you from taking it? How can you alter your actions to enable at least a weekend staycation?

The third example offers a harsh reality check. It's one thing to make goals, but it's another entirely to devote yourself to achieving them.

Try this trick the next time you're tempted to say "can't" and see what happens -- you might surprise yourself at how you've prioritized your current lifestyle.

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