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EPISODE 2 | Harnessing The Power Of No

In this episode I’ll be talking about how the word NO can turn your life around and get you on the road to success.

Saying no is very near the top of the productivity techniques that I use most often – Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best. John C. Maxwell

Too many commitments that do not serve your own goals and objectives in life or within a specific project only lead to overwhelm and burnout. I should know. I’ve been there – My first feature film was shot before I’d ever heard the word productivity.

During that project I found myself picking up and dealing with every incomplete task that came my way. Given that I was already Exec Producer and Director on the film and had more than enough to worry about, this had a predictable outcome. I put myself under so much pressure and strain that after it all ended I had what they used to call a nervous breakdown. I made many mistakes on the film, but if I’d just said NO more often and avoided the evil they call PERFECTIONISM, (which I’ll be talking about in episode 4) then I’d have had a happier life, an even better film and certainly a healthier outcome.

I eventually realised that for want of a better word I had to start being more SELFISH – or to put it more kindly I needed to be less ALTRUISTIC.


Learning to say NO is a lesson that I learned the hard way. Avoiding burnout starts by saying NO often, and meaning it.

It seems simple, but why do so many people find it difficult?

• For me saying YES seems to come from an internal need to be Nice - to be incessantly agreeable. You may find yourself saying YES because you want to impress, or gain favour, or maybe because you have an inherent fear of rejection and don’t want to disappoint people, make them angry or just appear unkind. Perhaps you say it just because it’s your default answer – you might not really understand why you say YES – If it’s just born out of habit then it’s one that can be and must be changed I fyou are to give yourself the best chance for success. If you say yes to everything that comes your way you’ll never be productive. If you say yes to things that really don’t light your fire, or that don’t further your dreams and goals then you are doing yourself a disservice. You’re likely spreading yourself so thin that you’re doing the person you’ve said yes to a disservice too.

• You’re not only setting yourself up to fail but that in turn will get you stressed out and create feelings of anger and resentment for the person that’s you’ve said yes to.

• It’s a bad route to follow.

Saying NO starts by STOPPING yourself from saying YES and you can do that if you put a bit of work in.

We’ll be talking about getting our priorities straight in episode 3 but you really have to know what you want and work towards your own goals, without getting side-tracked or manipulated to further other peoples priorities above your own instead.

By saying NO to any unimportant tasks, requests and even thoughts we can avoid a lot of angst and if you’re already in over your head - begin to reclaim your life.


• First of all you need to DECIDE WHAT YOUR PRIORITIES ARE and make YOUR OWN goals, objectives and prosperity your first priority. I’ll be working on this in episode 3 but for now…

• STOP BEING NICE – Guard your TIME by saying NO to unnecessary requests. Other people’s goals, that don’t in turn further your own in some way, are NOT your responsibility.

• STOP BEING NICE – Guard your MONEY by refusing to be the easy touch. Other people financial problems are NOT your responsibility.

• Make NO your default answer.

One thing to absolutely be aware of is manipulators. They are out there and many might not even know they are doing it but they use a series of underhand diversion or set up tactics which the less aware amongst us may fall for.

• Manipulators will say things like, this would be really good for you, but you can question that – will it really? Why?

• They’ll use flattery to pull you in. Oh I really love your work, I’d love you to be involved.

• They will try and guilt you into it, saying things like well you said you would help, or even blame you for something not working out unless you come on board – this is sometimes called blameshifting – without you this won’t work. I need you. YOU will ruin their #Blank if you don’t help.

• Or I helped you, and now you owe me – This is something which may also not actually be true – Did they help you or did they just think they helped you? Even if they did and you want to help, what cost will it be to your life, your work, your relationships?

• How’s about the term gaslighting? Are you aware of this one? Some people will entirely make things up and try and convince you that you said or did something that committed you to their purpose. The less aware amongst us will out of politeness accept what is said, but it must be challenged.

• Some people will out and out threaten you. If you don’t help me then I’ll use your competitor for example.

Manipulators are everywhere and their tactics are diverse. Avoid them. If you get in with these sorts of people and say YES, then be prepared for your involvement to NEVER END. They will move the goal posts and pull you further and further in.


Learning to say no was not an easy road for me. I still struggle with it but I am aware and I am getting better. When I first started thinking about this – I’d actually googled it in stressed out state and Google started me on the path - I stood back and looked at where my career and my bank balance was going it as a result of my non important commitments to other people films and lives and that made saying NO much easier.

This is something you need to practice so start small by using it in your day to day life, I found it really difficult, and still do to be honest, but I practiced it when ordering a coffee – would you like to up size that ? NO and then just started making a definite no, without an appended apology to more important matters. Of course not every opportunity has a yes or no answer but, you can buy yourself time by saying I’ll think about it and get back to you if you are uncertain.


“Learn to set boundaries. In short, learn to say no. Don't guilt and shame yourself. Say no to people and things you don't want. Just say no. It is your right, it is your time, it is your energy.” ― Akiroq Brost

Productivity starts with you taking control of your own life, your own destiny. Remember every time you say YES to one thing you’re saying NO to something else.


If you have difficulty with saying no, then start practicing it today.

Your homework for this week is to do just that. Practice with the small things and work up. By applying this rule and making NO your default answer, you’ll start to recover time, and stem the flow of lost energy which you give to other people. The hours here and there which you’ve given to other people, will become yours, the money you’ve loaned out to never see again will stay in your pocket and the creative energy which gets dissipated by playing someone else’s tune will remain yours to invest back into your own creative projects, your own work life and relationships.

Thanks again for listening - Next episode I’ll be talking about getting your priorities straight and getting what’s on your mind into a system which will help you to, on a very simple level, clarify your thoughts and identify your priorities.

That episode is available right now as I launch so buckle up, take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on Film Pro Productivity.

· This episode was produced by Stephen Rowan and the music is Adventures by A Himitsu.

· You can view the show notes for this episode at

· If you’re struggling with something you think I can help with or would like to tell me how you are getting on then please get in touch via the contact page on the website. Alternately you can get me on Twitter @fight_director or follow the show @filmproprodpod

· Please subscribe on the podcast app of your choice and if you are in the caring/ sharing mood then I’d really appreciate it if you would leave an AWESOME review.

Sources: None

Thanks: A Himitsu, Stephen Rowan, Dave Bullis Podcast, Podcraft.

Main Photographs taken on the Giordano UK shoot by Bryan Larkin.

Music: Adventures by A Himitsu Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 Music released by Argofox Music provided by Audio Library ––– • Contact the artist:


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