Posted in Guest Thoughts, The Now

No Because Yes If

This post-it was stuck to a pile of stuff my wife brought home from a process improvement workshop she did for her job. I stole it and stuck it on the monitor of the computer where I work at home.

Every morning I get up at 5:00AM so I can have an hour and a half to work on projects. It’s the most productive time of the day for me, and this routine sets aside at least 10 hours each week for pursuits like the children’s book I’m writing and illustrating, this blog, taking tutorials on new software I want to learn, and reading stuff on the inter webs.

I only listed those activities, but I’ve started and abandoned dozens of others.

Lists. I make lots of paper lists and cram them in my pockets. When I get home I throw them on my computer desk, and once a week or so I combine them into a new master list. They might have names of movies, bands or songs, websites, names of software programs or artists or blogs, interesting words. ideas, concepts…

The lists migrate to new pieces of paper from week to week. If something stays on the list too long without being explored or done, I cross it off. If it was something I was truly supposed to do / see / learn / read, it will come back.

You can’t do everything you want to do. Spreading yourself out across lots of projects means you’re giving only a small percentage of yourself to any one of them, and that means you’re never going to finish any of them. So you have to choose. No because Yes if.

No, I can’t do this, because Yes, if I focus, I can do this. But it also indicates contingencies: No, not yet, but Yes, if you get this other thing done first. Incentives. Priorities.

Obviously it’s meant to be something managers say to their employees in order to foster a positive relationship. The concept of “No Because VERSUS Yes If” is a way to communicate with people that changes the dynamic of leadership from negative to positive. I get that. But I also like my version of it. 

Every morning when my head is full of another 1,000 new ideas and all the roads look shiny and inviting, this is the first thing I see. And I sit down, open Photoshop, and work for another 1.5 hours on a page of the children’s book. Or write a blog post. And after a while, there are rewards to this sort of focus.

More on this from James Altucher here, who has recently been really hitting it with his posts.

Sometimes I feel this pressure, “If I don’t do something then people will forget about me”. It’s anxiety. I hate it.

But that’s OK with me. I can do nothing forever, and if I decide to do something, I’ll try to make it have enough value that it will have impact.

Plant seeds. It takes a long time to grow.

I hope you have an amazing day, say No to some things, and feel great about it. 

no because yes if




Graphic designer / project manager / gardener living in Denver, Colorado.

2 thoughts on “No Because Yes If

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