Saying NO rsp. not keeping a schedule

Published on Aug 10, 2020

I've been thinking about how to handle coffee requests for a while now. Before COVID-19, I'd meet interesting people for coffee, mostly inviting them conveniently to my office. When COVID-19 happened, I stopped scheduling coffees, incl. virtual ones because I didn't find them energising. Turns out: I didn't miss them at all. I loved how I had schedule-free days to do the work that I love and matters without interruptions and how I got into flow. 

Since people started meeting again here in Switzerland I got more requests again to go for coffee. As I was busy with producing the first season of my podcast I told them that I can't meet during production phase and asked them to get back to me by the end of summer. 

Now, the end of summer is nearing and I don't know how to handle coffee requests.

Ever since I've heard of the idea of not keeping a schedule it got me hooked. Here is the article by Marc Andreessen in his guide to Productivity.

What if I didn't do coffees, virtual or in person at all? 

I'm afraid I'd lose inspiration to write or for my podcast, collaboration possibilities, opportunities for promotion of my business or to find potential clients. 

What if I had phases where I don't go for coffees by default?

I could make exceptions for good reason. And I can always change the rule when I crave coffee with an interesting person. 

One thing is for sure: I don't want to say YES to a coffee, just because I think that's what I should do rsp. just because I'm afraid to say NO or miss out. 

I want to say YES wholeheartedly, or how Derek Sivers says "Hell YEAH" or "No".

OK. That's the plan. I need a way to say NO in a polite way.

I found some scripts on "How to say NO" by writing coach Alexandra Franzen and I remember that in Tim Ferriss' book Tribe of Mentors he interviewed people how they politely decline requests and manage to not overcommit, here an example template that Jason Fried shared

If it's about "picking one's brain" / asking for free advice, Denise Duffield-Thomas has some great scripts in her book "Chillpreneur" that help to set boundaries and make these awkward money conversations smooth.   

And last but not least, Warren Buffet is the man that keeps inspiring with his focus. Here an article about "How he manages to prioritise and say 'No' to most things". 

Next steps for me:
1. Think about when and why I want to make exceptions to my NO-coffee-meetings rule

2. Think about for what kind of requests it's hardest for me to say "No" and why

3. I'll "steal" what's useful from Alexandra Franzen, Denise DT, Jason Fried and Warren Buffet and draft my own script(s). 

Do you have any policies, rules or scripts? I'd love to hear from you.