say no

There's one small, simple word that will help you achieve higher levels of productivity and, frankly, probably lower your stress levels and make you happier all around. That one little word is "no."

We live in an age when we are constantly available to others and to our work, which isn't so great for your work-life balance. By learning to say "no" to people and distractions, you are giving yourself the opportunity to really focus on your tasks and maybe even shorten your work hours.

Don't let others run your schedule.

This is especially important for those that use shared calendars with their coworkers. Block out chunks of time in your calendar, ideally 90 to 180 minutes each, that allow for you to focus on meaningful work. That means during this time you are not available to anyone else. No meetings, no impromptu brainstorming sessions, and no phone calls.

Don't let your inbox take up all your time.

Instead of attending to your inbox all day, every time you hear or see a little notification, allocate time during your day specifically for checking and replying to emails. For some, you might need to do this for 30-minutes three times a day. Others might be able to get away just doing this once or twice a day. Either way, your inbox shouldn't dictate your day.

Stop checking your social media pages.

Just say 'no' to your personal social media pages. It is so very tempting to just check up on your news feed to send out a tweet, but these distractions will only hinder your focus. Instead, allow yourself to check social media pages during your micro breaks in the afternoon. Take five ten minutes in between tasks to take a short break, and only check your social media pages during these breaks. The rest of the time, you just have to learn to resist the temptation.

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