The zero calendar life is trending online.
A mate of mine is one of these lucky bastards. His calendar is literally empty for the next three months. He has no kids, dogs, romantic partners, meetings, social events, etc.
Okay, he has no life too. Let’s be honest.
Still, there’s a powerful lesson in how he nuked his calendar. He wrote down for the year all the things he would say no to in advance. Write your “No” list for 2022 early. Publish it where everyone can see it.
Here are nine noes to free up your time to do cool stuff instead.
Say no to these deadly messages
“Can I pick your brain?”
Say it with me everyone: “N-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!”
They may as well say can I waste your time that you can never get back and ruin your life for eternity? The other type of deadly message is one we all get daily online. This message boggles my mind.
If the best a person can do is type two letters then you can be sure they’ll waste your time. Richard Branson doesn’t send business emails with the word “Hi.” Oprah doesn’t get a guest on her podcast with a pitch email to Leonardo DiCaprio that says “Hi.”
“Hi” = Lazy
Lazy requests will kill 2022 before you’ve even begun.
Ever got a pitch after 60 seconds of talking to someone?
It’s why I don’t do networking events. Networking encourages transactional relationships. Instead, make real-life friends. If a transaction happens to fly out of the fifth conversation then great. Otherwise, avoid one-night stand relationships. You’ll end up feeling used and abused.
Say no to podcast interviews
In our day-to-day jobs we’re all experts in something. Podcasts need experts.
So you get asked to be on their show. The challenge is most podcasts have zero audience, and they won’t last longer than a year. I say no to all of them. The one or two good podcast pitches I’ve had clearly outline their prior guests, the topic they cover, and most importantly…
A screenshot of their audience stats.
There’s one exception I encourage you to say yes to. If a friend asks you to be on a podcast then use this simple reframe. You were going to talk to that friend on Zoom at some point anyway, so simply record the call and they can slap it up online and call it a podcast. Two birds, one stone.
Podcasts are an overrated waste of time in 2022.
Say no to real-time message replies
Slack made us slack.
In every job I’ve ever had I’ve always said no to joining the company messaging service. The one time I accidentally did I had random employees from all over the world sending me questions and pitches.
One lady even wanted me to book meetings for her with employees I didn’t even know. “Sure, I’ll be your personal assistant.” Joking. Say no.
Message apps are the enemy of deep work.
Distracted work takes longer to complete. No matter how disciplined you are those tiny red notifications will spark your curiosity and take you away from work if you let them. Don’t install Slack and become slack. Avoid.
Say no to b*tching sessions
You know the ones. Where you throw anybody that’s standing in the way of your goals under a bright yellow bus in a conversation with a friend. The calls are a disguise for “talking about big things.” Then all you is b*tch.
I’m not immune. I love me a good b*tching session for entertainment. Don’t do it. It destroys your optimism. The people you complain with will eventually leak whatever you say. Quietly, you’ll ruin whatever reputation you have.
At the end of these sessions you never feel good either. All your energy is drained. Now you’ve got no willpower to do the real work, so that clogs up your calendar further and steals more of your time.
To blame and complain is lame.
Say no to bad books
I get bad book recommendations all the time. I used to fall for them. Or I’d feel sorry for the author who is a friend. No more. Bad books be gone!
You can only read so many books before you die.
If the book is bad then divorce him/her. Dump their ass. Even if you paid $20 for the book, you’d likely save that much money in free time you get back. Amazon is a dumpster for books.
The chance of finding a lame book is high. The decision to go back to the pile and find another one is yours.
Say no to spending money on BS
Money stores your time. When you buy dumb stuff you’re wasting the most important currency of your life.
Bad purchases include:
- Underused subscriptions
- Anything from an instagram influencer
- Items that have the “F you I’m rich” factor
- New cars that devalue faster than dropping a sack of potatoes
- Replacing low-quality items every year, instead of buying the good version
Spend money on improving your skill stack instead.
Say no to your not-so-smart phone
My wife is a scroller.
She loves it. Her gorgeous googly eyes can easily get glued to an iPhone screen. Whatever Jobs did to the iPhone before he died, it worked. Addiction is built in by design.
Rule: If your phone is near you, it will distract you.
I have long periods of time where my phone is away from me, especially when I’m with my wife. The size of a phone screen intrigues me. I can’t do anything productive on a tiny phone screen. My best work gets done on a large monitor. So other than messages and the odd phone call, my phone is useless.
Somehow we fell for the lie that we must have a phone with us at all times or we won’t survive. Yet for millennials like me, I remember life before phone zombies. You could live without a phone for hours on end and not die.
Say it with me: “Less time on the phone in 2022.”
Say no to extra work
At my last job I got new admin tasks added to my load daily. I had to learn to say no otherwise I’d work until 9 pm every night.
I learned to say no to most of them. Or swap one task for another task so the work didn’t become more.
If your boss knows you’ll always say yes to new work then they’ll exploit the heck out of you. Set boundaries. Have a regular catch-up about workloads and show them so they don’t think you’re pulling a swifty on them.
The other hack is to use the request to do more work as a reason to bring up salary. Consistent asks should be used for renegotiation. Otherwise you give up time regularly and end up getting a raw deal.
The best reason to say no to extra work: your family.
You ideally should spend more time with your family than your co-workers.
How to say no like a badass from Compton
Steal these scripts.
- “Sorry my calendar is full. When it frees up I’ll let you know.”
- “I have a rule that I don’t ….”
- “It’s life or death. I can’t eat/drink that because …”
- “Podcasts are not part of my 2022 plans, unfortunately.”
- “Your probably best to talk to <insert name> about that. They’re a better fit for your request.”
- “You’ve caught me at a bad time. Sorry.”
- “I’m taking time off right now and can’t do it.”
- “Instead of a beer [or alternative poison] can I get a soda/water/juice?”
Life is one, big, fat negotiation. Start with no. Move to a yes if it makes sense.