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Just Say No: How to Avoid Costly Distractions at the Office

 – SSI –  

Paul Boucherle explains why staving off myriad potential distractions means learning how to say no — a lot.

We left you hanging by your fingernails last month waiting to read how James Bond antagonist-turned-good-guy Dr. No will help you conquer the dreaded Time Vampires that suck away everyday productivity in various forms.

So what is Dr. No’s secret? He says NO to people, tasks, distractions and shiny objects that distract him from his pursuit of world domination. Dr. No fought his way out of obscurity, prioritized his goals and ruthlessly managed his time, which is a prerequisite for world domination … or a successful sales career.

You should consider doing the same — just say “no” to improve your personal productivity. Start like Dr. No with written goals that should include one-, three- and five-year targets for your world domination. Run a longer race with your career goals.

Imagine and envision your world five years from now. Work backwards from there to identify one-year steps to reach each target goal. Include professional development, promotion to more responsibility, financial growth and building a professional network of like-minded go-getters.

The trick is both visualizing it and writing it down. Let’s dig into his playbook on dispatching Time Vampires to see what you can learn and apply. If you read April’s column, what would you guess is Dr. No’s DiSC (dominance, influence, steadiness, conscientiousness) style?

Different DiSC Paths to Improved Productivity

The D profile can be characterized by the following: direct, decisive, forceful, opinionated, calculated risk taker, impatient, results-driven, unforgiving, task-oriented and believes they can bend the environment to their will.

They also hate Time Vampires with a passion; they trick D’s into time management purgatory by waffling about commitments. So D style, here is your Dr. No garlic recipe for Time Vampires: slow down.

What do we eye from the i style? The i profile is a “people person,” often described as outgoing, engaging, optimistic, enthusiastic, positive and friendly. The need for an i to connect with people and recharge on that energy is their weakness when Time Vampires come out to play.

Here is the i style’s silver bullet for protection: talk less, plan more and be self-aware at all times. Your recipe consists of not always monopolizing conversations; yes, you like to make everyone’s day and make new friends, but you may be overwhelming people. Say no to a lack of awareness and plan the right time and place for interactions.

An S is more reserved and also people-oriented. Often described as helpful, supportive and dependable, they are the team glue. Well maybe too helpful at times — so much so that they have a difficult time saying no to requests that are actually Time Vampires dressed in people’s clothing. Those who are an S style don’t want to rock the boat, hurt people’s feelings or engage in conflict.

So some people will take advantage of their good nature and Uber their Time Vampires to the S front door. Knock, knock, tick, tock … you get the picture. Don’t wait too long to deal with an uncomfortable situation, and don’t take on more than you can handle. Just say no and find your voice of reason.

At first glance, the task-orientated C style looks like the perfect Time Vampire hunter because they have black belts in saying no. Their desire to be right the first time and err on the side of caution allows them to remain in “no” mode until they are 100% correct, or pretty darn close. That phrase “analysis paralysis” could be a challenge. However, C’s can leave the back door unlocked to Time Vampires who will whisper in your ear, “Are you sure? Maybe you should look at the data again. Maybe another demo would help!”

You can see how this might delay progress on a project or goal. The detailed C can use wooden stakes to counteract the Time Vampires. Communicate what the team needs — the steps necessary perhaps to test a new product for before it is sold; or training needed to commission new systems or processes. Teach your teams how you arrive at no so they can bring you projects that you can greenlight “yes” to for profitable growth. Hey C’s, you don’t have to be right all the time!

Now you understand why, in the first part of our story last month, Wonder Woman decided to bring her DiSC weapon — to help everyone recognize the value each individual contributes to an organization regardless of their DiSC style. As you see, there are many ways to slay a Time Vampire.