Volodymyr Vasylyna's Website

Improve your work by saying no more often

Most productivity advice focuses on speed and efficiency: more user-friendly tools allow you to get better results with fewer moves. High-speed Internet access means we can be contacted wherever we are, and predictive typing of words and sentences on the keyboard means we can respond faster than ever before. Google gives us all kinds of information in seconds, and AI may soon figure out what we need before we even know it.

There is nothing wrong with speed. But it is not the lack of high speed that prevents us from obtaining valuable work results. The real enemy of modern work is the sheer number of small commitments, tasks and projects we juggle at the same time.

Every thing we agree to do entails a hidden "tax" necessary to support it, such as instant messaging, e-mail, short calls, meetings, or some other administrative work. Separately, these actions are easy and not very burdensome (how difficult is it to answer a simple request via Telegram?). Problems arise when such actions begin to accumulate. After we agree to dozens of different commitments, the resulting cumulative "tax" can grow to take up a large part of our plan for the day. Working hours will now be staggered. We will spend a lot of effort to keep up with several dialogues, each is more important than the other.

In this distracted state, it is difficult to do important work well. In other words, the problem is not a lack of speed, but a lack of free space and time. We don't need to build more powerful tools like Notion, but to gain freedom from this rush of fragmented commitments.

All of these observations above are about work, but this is also a story about technology. In many ways, innovations like Instagram, Miro, and Slack have allowed our workloads to grow to their current obscene proportions. Given this reality, we cannot depend on even faster technology to save us. The way out of the overload won't be found in the new Notion template or in the new handy app for keeping to-do lists. Instead, there needs to be a cultural, fundamental change in how we approach managing all the things we need to do.

Meanwhile, as paradoxical as it may sound, if we want to influence our work and increase productivity, we should say "no" more often and clearly understand our priorities.

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