The Four Thieves Destroying Our Productivity

Zaid K. Dahhaj
7 min readMay 7, 2018

Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.” (John Carmack)

“Macro view of an urban person's hand on a chain link fence in De Nieuwe Stad” by Mitchel Lensink on Unsplash

The Four Thieves Of Productivity

  1. Inability to Say “No”

2. Fear of Chaos

3. Poor Health Habits

4. Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals

The Inability to Say “No”

It’s one thing to be distracted when you’re trying to focus, it’s another entirely to be hijacked before you even get to. The way to protect what you’ve said yes to and stay productive is to say no to anyone or anything that could derail you.

Peers will ask for your advice and help. Co-workers will want you on their team. Friends will request your assistance. Strangers will seek you out. Invitations and interruptions will come at you from everywhere imaginable. How you handle all of this determines the time you’re able to devote to your priority and the results you’re ultimately able to produce.

Here’s the thing. When you say yes to something, it’s imperative that you understand what you’re saying no to.

All of us struggle to some degree with saying no. There are many reasons. We want to be helpful. We don’t want to be hurtful. We want to be caring and considerate. We don’t want to seem callous and cold. All of this is totally understandable. Being needed is incredibly satisfying, and helping others can be deeply fulfilling. Focusing on our own goals to the exclusion of others, especially the causes and the people we value the most, can feel downright selfish and self-centered. But it doesn’t have to.

Master marketer Seth Godin says, “You can say no with respect, you can say no promptly, and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes. But just saying yes because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work.” Godin gets it. You can keep your yes and say no in a way that works for you and for others.

Of course, whenever you need to say no, you can just say it and be done with it. There is nothing wrong with this at all. In fact, this should be your first choice every time. But if you feel there are times you need to say no in a helpful way…

Zaid K. Dahhaj

Sleep King. Helping family men fix fatigue in less than 42 days without letting loved ones suffer. Founder: The 2AM Podcast.