September 30, 2018  




On this week’s show, I will be talking about how PERFECTIONISM is NOT the way forward if you want to be PRODUCTIVE and HAPPY.

Before we start though last week I detailed the 5 a day for good mental health system which I had attached to the acronym ALIVE. I hope that it’s been a good topic of discussion for you and its helped a few people along the way. If you missed it you can access it right now on the podcast app of your choice or at


Leo Tolstoy in AnnaKarenina says “If you look for perfection, you'll never be content.” so this is no new topic of discussion

In productivity terms, PERFECTIONISM, or dealing with the problems that arise as a result of perfectionism, could have been split over two episodes as it’s a huge topic. It is something that tied me down for years - I have found it a major hindrance in my life. Good was never good enough and good enough was rarely PERFECT. Now I’m ABSOLUTELY NOT saying here that we shouldn’t have high standards but perfectionism is a trait which will more often than not leave you frustrated and dissatisfied with your work even if it’s excellent. It can incapacitate you if you let it, create strain on your relationships, damage your health and leave you constantly unhappy and disappointed.

I used to think that my perfectionism was a strength, in fact at one point in my life it was on my Resume for like 2 years. I was obsessed with getting things right, I still am, to be honest, but I am no longer a perfectionist. International productivity author Stephen Guise wrote a book about this called How to be an im-perfectionist – That’s a far better description of how I see myself now. Stephen says If you don't manage to reframe perfectionism as a damaging and inferior mindset, the illusion of its superiority will thwart your desired changes.

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Shortly after I made my feature film, I had a colossal breakdown and only then did I begin to realise that perfectionism was what had put me there.

I was diagnosed as having a dissociative disorder and PTSD – Yes PTSD – who would have thought that making a low budget feature film would lead to similar mental stresses to those returning from war zones?

During my recovery, I signed up for health classes the STEPS organisation, which I think are now called Wellbeing Glasgow.  One was called Dealing with Stress – and every 6 weeks in Glasgow at that time 130 new people started with that class – stress today is an epidemic and it is killing people. In the hand-outs that we got with the classes, there was a list of things that led to stress, anxiety and depression. Top of that list was the word PERFECTIONISM.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

The thing that I had always thought was a positive trait was, I suddenly realised, the likely reason that I had gone bananas. My obsession with getting things perfect, and rarely achieving that goal, had been destroying me. It’s not PC to say this anymore, but I was having a nervous breakdown. I couldn’t remember things, I had no confidence left, my perception of reality was skewed and I was frightened and totally burned out.

But the realisation that everything doesn’t have to be PERFECT is something that many people find hard to swallow - I mean what’s wrong with wanting things to be perfect right?

Well – wanting things to be perfect is normal, but becoming obsessed with achieving perfection can be paralysing. It cramps your life and leads to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, stress and other mental health issues - and all of that, in turn, leads to damaged relationships, a problematic work-life balance and ultimately loss of joy for life.

You see as a perfectionist.

  • There can be no room for mistakes. They spend a crazy amount of time correcting tiny mistakes that ultimately don’t make a difference. They are hypercritical, taking the finish of what you are doing to a level far beyond that which others would deem excellent.
  • Things have got to be done their way, and that’s a very specific way. They find it very difficult to find good people to work with and many people won’t want to work with them for fear of miss-footing and drawing their wrath. As a result, they disregard their health, compromise relationships, take on more and more and all of that leads to more and more pressure, lack of sleep and stress.
  • Even if they delegate, they keep worrying about it. They micro-manage, even when things are going well.
  • They become obsessed with the end result. They don’t care what it takes to achieve the goal, and if they don’t make it, they feel like a failure. They even get hung up on past perceived “failures” because they just can’t let go even years later.
  • They can’t stop thinking about work, because they are afraid everything will fall apart without them.
  • Their, what I would call, inner critic is forever trolling them and comparing what they are doing with what someone who has done it for years has done. So they are immensely hard on themselves.
  • Because their standards are so high they become huge procrastinators– I don’t know the number of filmmakers out there that have made films and not even released them as they have lost faith in what they are doing. It’s not perfect so it has no worth. They become perpetually locked in a state of preparation, waiting for the right moment to proceed. For the perfect alignment of the stars which will result in the perfect product. It’s crippling.
  • No matter what they do, it’s never enough. Success is never enough for that inner voice I mentioned earlier.
  • It’s a motivation killer because they hold themselves to unachievable standards and much of the time they don’t even start. It is ALL or NOTHING.
  • We're constantly worried about your work being judged – which is not surprising as in this social networking age we will be.
  • And finally they leave themselves no room to get better – They have forgotten that we all need to make mistakes in order to learn.



I beat my addiction to perfection with this simple premise - I asked myself in whatever it was I was doing:

  • Is this perfect? NO
  • Then I asked myself - Is it good enough? and my good enough is really very good btw – and if it isn’t good enough I will do more but if my truthful answer is YES - if it meets my minimum standard – Then I will give myself permission to move on. I just won’t allow myself to get hung up in a perpetual loop of micro improvement and I will proceed with imperfection.

I’ve seen that this is also the conclusion that many others in this field have come to. Stephen Guise’s solution is effectively the same as mine but adds another level. He has a floor and a ceiling to his high standards. His im-perfectionist lives between the floor, or the bare minimum standard for it to be ok, to be good, passable, and acceptable and a ceiling – which is a magical dreamlike perfection, the highest possible standard.

He explains that the perfectionist who seeks the highest possible standard makes that their floor, and in turn that makes their ceiling unachievable – On that basis, the PERFECTIONIST will NEVER REACH PERFECTION. Changing your standard from the unachievable to a very high standard frees you up from all the other problems that come with it. Try going for 80 or 90% of perfection. That’s a much more achievable aim.

Eliminating perfection from your life is NOT a THAT’LL DO philosophy. It allows you to set high achievable standards.

  • As we embrace imperfection we need to kill the ALL OR NOTHING MINDSET by accepting that there is a natural progression to things. We can advance my question by asking - Is it good enough FOR NOW? Can I let this stand FOR NOW and improve it at a later date? Writers will do it in their drafts and redrafting process, gradually improving. Students will study to get better and as their understanding of a topic or skill broadens they will improve. The best analogy is perhaps the one of learning to ride a bike. You have to practice to get better and eventually the training wheels will come off. You can’t immediately achieve brilliance – You should work your way towards it.
  • On that same topic, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. Applying constant pressure on yourself to meet the unrealistic standard that a competitor or mentor that has 20 years more experience than you sets is the ultimate route to procrastination. Fear of your work not being of a high enough standard will simply make you stop because you are holding yourself to an ideal they can't possibly reach. Yet.
  • We also need to focus on the positive and on the things we are doing well. We can’t linger on our doubts and allow the inner voice to paralyse us. Switch off your negative self-talk.
  • We must also make health our priority and stop sacrificing rest in the name of work. Care for yourself. Make fitness and eating priorities in your life and don’t let stress creep up on you.
  • One that I am trying to figure out right now and I am having some success with is that we should embrace the process and not be so target oriented. Stay in the moment and enjoy the task. Don’t make your happiness depend on whether you hit a goal or miss it. Having goals is a truly great thing but if the bar is too high then it will just be demotivating.
  • We must figure out our work/ life balance and not go down the slippery slope of obsessing over our work at the cost of missing our families or our partners. We must value our relationships and personal life. If you put 100% of your energy into work you will leave no room for anything else, including your own downtime.
  • We must learn to delegate, and that’s something I’ve raised in earlier episodes of this podcast. You may feel that it’s easier and faster for you to do everything yourself but that’s not really the case. It may be done a little differently from how you would like it done, but if you find good reliable people to work with, and relay your instructions well, then whatever task you delegate will get done. Here’s a secret that I use to get great work done by others. I only work with brilliant people. You’ve got to hunt for them, but they are out there.
  • We must prioritise our tasks and ignore the less important. A perfectionist will try to do it all and dissipate their energy. If you can prioritise, and I spoke about that in my last podcast, then you can focus on what is the most important without being hung up on the small details.


My all-time favourite quote on this topic is by ― Ernest Hemingway who said that “The first draft of anything is shit.”

I’ll balance that last quote with one by Lao Tzu who says that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I love this one as it captures the spirit of recovery.

When you understand the ideas that these quotes demonstrate, and realise that DONE is better than PERFECT, it opens the door for us to write that first draft, or make our first film, or record our first sound or paint our first painting or even – as I am proving here – create your first podcast.

I’ve spent a lot of time on my podcast but it’s anything but perfect. I know that, and I am releasing it anyway. I don’t compare it to the awesome podcasts that are already out there but I do allow them to inspire and educate me. I celebrate them as I put this one together. I silence my inner critic and release my imperfect Podcast to the world, and I do it with courage. No one is going to hear it if I don’t release it so here it is. Completed and out there. I’ve fought through my procrastination, launched with imperfection and know that I will get better as I create more and learn from my mistakes. For now, though I hope that it has been useful to those who have listened and that you will be able to take the ideas which I have presented forward and into your own life and work.

That filmmaker that’s frightened to release his film as it doesn’t compare to Spielberg’s latest masterpiece


How many of you have slaved over the wording of an email for example – working at it to be perfect? Was that email really that important that it deserved an hour or more of your time? Probably not. That’s a tiny example of perfectionism intruding on your time and mental energy. Spot this perfectionism and work round it. TEACH YOURSELF TO CARE A LITTLE LESS.

I just want you to stop trying to be perfect and start living your lives. That’s the homework.


If you want to tell me how you are getting on with the productivity concepts that I talk about here then I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch via the speakpipe recorder on’s contact page or on twitter @filmproprodpod. If you can take a minute or two to tell me what is working for you and what you are struggling with then I’ll do my best to feedback in future episodes.

Thanks again for listening – This has been a big episode so Next time will be shorter – I’ll be talking to you about ALIVE - a simple acronym to improve your mental health.

But for now, just take control of your destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on Film Pro Productivity.

  • The music for this podcast and that you are listening to right now 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 spread the word and leave an AWESOME review.


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:


September 23, 2018  



Show Notes


This week I’ll be talking about 5 simple steps to a happier life through mental well-being using the acronym ALIVE.


We have designated Mental Health Awareness Weeks every year. In Europe it’s in May, in North America, it’s usually the end of September into October. World suicide prevention day is on the 10th September every year. 1 in 5 people across the world suffer from some form of mental illness. It’s a topic that we need to talk more about. We need to eliminate the stigma about mental illness and talking about it is a great way to start.

  • I first came across the 5 A Day for good mental health system when I was attending stress classes run by Glasgow’s STEPS program, now called Wellbeing Glasgow. In that 6 evening course, it was raised and presented as part of the class and detailed the books that accompanied it. Later on, I went on to volunteer with the course leader Dr Jim White on media matters. The 5 a day system had made a great impact on me but as I questioned him on it I couldn’t recall them all. At that time. Neither could he. It was some weeks later when I travelled with my brothers to Moniaive in Dumfriesshire to attend my Aunt Jean’s funeral, that my brothers and I came up with the acronym ALIVE to remember the system. If anyone ever wonders where this episode was born, it was there in that car, and this podcast is my first effort to get it out there.


Before I go into my own interpretation for this let’s talk about 5 A DAY FOR MENTAL WELLBEING. It was borne of a European Union survey on mental health which for the life of me I’ve never been able to track down. Now, this 5 a day system is touted everywhere, and quite rightly as it’s a brilliant and effective system.

It consists of 5 elements.


  • Connect
  • Connect with the people around you: Your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
  • Put five minutes aside to ask someone how they are
  • Arrange to meet up with friends that you haven’t seen in a while
  • Join a local group or club and meet new people in your community


  • Be active
  • You don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Play Pokémon Go! Find the activity that you enjoy, and make it a part of your life.
  • Go for a short walk at lunchtime
  • Discover a physical activity you enjoy and one that suits you


  • Keep learning
  • Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
  • Sign up for a class and learn something new
  • Rediscover an old interest, such as cooking or gardening
  • Take on a new challenge to make or fix something


  • Give to others / or Volunteer (your time)
  • Even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you, or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
  • Volunteer your time for a cause you are passionate about
  • Spend time with someone who you know has been having a difficult time


  • Take notice
  • Be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness,” and it can positively change the way you feel about life, and how you approach challenges.
  • Set aside time to practise mindfulness or take up yoga
  • Take notice of how your friends or colleagues are feeling
  • Spend time outdoors, enjoy the fresh air and notice what’s around you

So these are quite simple steps which we should all be aware of, but how do we easily remember them.


My system uses the appropriate acronym ALIVE.

  • A - Stay active, keep moving every day.
  • L – look about, observe the world about you, watch a sunset, smell a flower,
  • I – Interact with others, get out of the house,
  • V – volunteer your time, you don’t need to start a podcast, just help someone with the little things like lifting their shopping, mowing a lawn, or just lifting up the phone

and lastly

  • E – Educate – Keep learning – that is the key to your future. Try Udemy or listen to more podcasts. Keep that brain active and keen.

If a specialist doctor couldn’t remember these off the top of his head then I can assure you that we need this. It’s my gift to the world. Take it – fly with it – spread the word. Just telling people about this will make you feel much better about your own troubles. It’s a great conversation starter and it really helps those in need. Productivity is as much about gaining a happier, healthier life as it is about getting more done. Having poor mental health is as sure to stop you working as anything else.


“When your mind is in a dark place it is difficult not to think in shadows.”

― Charlie Hasler, Words From An Unlikely Poet

With one in five people suffering this means it is likely that you or someone in your immediate family or someone you work with is struggling with their mental health. Can you imagine them having to deal with that stigma? A stigma that causes people in need of help to keep it to themselves! Dealing with mental illness is extremely hard on its own, doing so in silence makes it that much harder.


This week's call to action is - if you know someone with a mental health concern, reach out and talk to them. Let them know that while you may not understand what they are feeling, you are there for them and are supportive of them. Share this podcast, or the ALIVE acronym to help get the conversation started. There will be a full transcript on the website.

I want you to memorise the ALIVE acronym and talk about it often and keep spreading the word.


Thanks again for listening and for giving me your time. I’d like to thank Doctor Jim White and the STEPS team in Glasgow for helping me in my own struggles and I dedicate this episode to my old friend and creative colleague Keith Munro who we lost some years ago.

Next episode I’ll be talking about PERFECTIONISM and how it can be applied to our work in the creative industries.

For now, though, take control of your own destiny, silence those negative thoughts, keep on shootin’ and join me NEXT TIME on Film Pro Productivity.

  • The music for this podcast 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.


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:
September 2, 2018  




In this episode, we will be looking at how to prioritise your tasks and gain clarity of mind that will allow you to move forward.

Before we start though: have you been actioning the word NO from last week’s episode? I started with NO for good reason – it’s going to stop you sliding down whatever slippery slope you are on. Whatever time-consuming rabbit holes you have found yourself in. This week’s topic is prioritising because saying NO to the wrong things means that you can start saying YES to the right – Saying NO liberates you from non-essential commitments and makes much more room for you to say yes to what is meaningful and important to you. It opens up free time by giving you choices. NO being one that will stop the influx of new commitments, MAYBE which will buy you time to think about a commitment and YES which comes from knowing that commitment is something that furthers your end goals something you really want to do or perhaps just something that pays the bills.

But how can you decide what’s important and what is not?


I nearly called this episode WHITE NOISE AND HOW TO NAVIGATE THROUGH IT as that’s often how I feel when I get bogged down in my THINGS TO DO list – It’s a foggy buzzy place where I can get lost and sometimes I find myself obsessing over things which when all are said and done, are just not important.

That fog, no matter how driven you are, can drop down and, in productivity terms at least, hide from you what is important, and cause you to slow down and meander into a rhythm of unproductiveness.

About a year ago I picked up 6 retro  VHS camcorders from a college that was getting rid of them. I had them sent to me and all in it was about £200. Great deal and I had a plan for them. I was going to give them to fellow filmmaker friends with a challenge, I’d give them a camcorder and a single tape which costs about £2, the means to capture from them which was another £10 and I was going to ask them all to make a short film to a deadline with a prize of keeping the camcorder and something more for the winner – It would be fun right? Wrong. I ended up chewing over how I would do this for months, and it was always on my mind. I had a Ton of other far more important things to do, fight contracts that required constant attention, relationships, I had just got a puppy, I had my own films I was trying to develop and a load of house-related problems and personal matters that needed my time and time. When I stopped for a moment and looked at what I had on my todo list it was probably 6 months later and I was drowning.

Within two minutes of assessing what I had to do, I realised I had to dump this camcorder idea. As I stopped and took stock I realised it was a total waste of time and money. I mean if I’d been a millionaire playboy with plenty of free time maybe I could have done it with my friends one weekend, but I’m no millionaire. By simply eliminating this task not doing it I was able to:

  1. Save a load of money.
  2. Save a load of hassle - communicating and organising an idea which other filmmakers would likely not have the time to actually do anything with. These people have businesses and families.
  3. Save a load of time. This project wouldn’t have taken 5 minutes. It would have taken weeks and possibly months of time I didn’t have.
  4. Free up my mind for more important things.

Getting what’s on your mind and onto paper, or on to a whiteboard as that’s my preferred medium, allows you to honestly assess what is important and what was not. My time consuming altruistic camcorder idea which would ultimately led to me giving away my those camcorders just didn’t fit with what I was about at that time. I only realised that though when I stopped and assessed all that I had on my mind.

Prioritising starts with what I call a BRAIN DUMP. Get a whiteboard or a just a piece of paper, but whiteboards are cheap and really give you a good chance at tackling this sort of thing. I actually have 4 large whiteboards in my office and one at home for doing this sort of thing. Get that whiteboard and Dump whatever is on your mind onto it. Get it all out there. Any incomplete task, anything that’s on your mind and anything that is slowing you down. If you’re using a whiteboard and run out of space you can always photograph it and type it up and start a new board btw.

If you enjoy this episode and would like to support the show, please buy whiteboard through my Amazon Affiliate link. I get a small bump for any sale made (Doesn’t have to be what I am linking to either!) Thanks!


Now the task of getting everything onto a whiteboard or a piece of paper starts to make a difference to your mind. That working space that’s been holding these ideas and worries starts to free up. That RAM or headspace can be put to better use than remembering all these incomplete tasks. Just having that host of tasks in your head will actually tire you out.

In 1927 a Russian psychologist called Bluma Zeigarnik found that waiters remembered orders only as long as the order was in the process of being served.

When we hold multiple things in short-term memory, we have to rehearse them continuously, otherwise, they would disappear. This requires a lot of cognitive effort and the more things we are rehearsing the more effort. The Waiters had better recollections of still unpaid and incomplete orders but after the completion of the task — after everyone had paid — they were unable to remember any more details of the orders.

This trick now known as the Zeigarnik effect is very well applied by soaps and serials. The episode ends, but the story doesn’t. Thus you get stuck in a cliffhanger. Software designers do the same things with games. The point is that this is a thing, it’s been understood for years and it’s something you can deal with.


So now that we know that we have gotten these tasks out of our short-term memory and on a whiteboard or a piece of paper we can now apply one of several systems to help us to prioritise.

The "Eisenhower Method" stems from a quote attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower: who said "I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent is not important, and the important is never urgent." I’ll detail that system in the show notes but my preferred system is Rory Vaden’s focus funnel.

The way this works is - If you can imagine a funnel wide at the top and getting tighter as it goes down, you would run you to do list through this. This dilutes your list into a priority list.

  • ELIMINATE – What can you get rid of. For me, it was, amongst other things, the camcorder thing. It was an incomplete task or loop in my head and it took up space for no good reason.
  • AUTOMATE – Examples
  • DELEGATE – Dog Walking.
  • PROCRASTINATE – till a later date
  • CONCENTRATE – This is the dilution of what is important.



The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule but to schedule your priorities. Stephen Covey

I’ll look at the bigger questions of life purpose and life goals which will, in turn, inform your priorities in a later episode but the combination of a Brain Dump and the Focus Funnel system will help you to navigate your way through the white noise of everyday life and work and start to get back on top. Straight off the bat, decide what of your to-do list can be eliminated – combine that with a  bit of honesty in yourself and the word NO I talked about last time, and you are well on the way to escaping that overburdening feeling of obligation you may have gotten yourself into.


Let's get that white noise out of your head and onto a piece of paper, or a whiteboard. Apply the focus funnel, which again will be shown as a diagram in the show notes and you will soon get back control. Remember that you are driving the bus, not some unimportant commitment or incomplete task.


Thanks again for listening - Next episode I’ll be talking about PERFECTIONISM and why it’s a really bad thing.

Good luck in the week ahead. Buckle up, take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on Film Pro Productivity.

  • The music for this podcast 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.


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:


September 2, 2018  




Show Notes




  • 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 if you 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's 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 upsize 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.


I’ll end this episode with a quote from Akiroq Brost

“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.” ―

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.


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:
September 2, 2018  



If you would like to view the full transcript for this episode please go to:

HIGH-LEVEL THINKING – developing through conscious thought, an overview of your life and work which will allow you to BE IN CONTROL. When you have achieved this position you can more easily make decisions about which direction you are moving and make positive changes to your life and work.

  • A famous Chinese proverb says that "Every journey starts with a single step."
  • This podcast is mine.
  • And it’s my gift to you.


  • James Anthony Froude “Experience teaches slowly and at the cost of mistakes.” 
  • Joseph Joubert "To Teach is to Learn Twice."
  • Bruce Lee “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is specifically your own.”


TWITTER: @filmproprodpod

FACEBOOK: @filmproproductivity



Stephen Rowan from The Stephen Rowan Show for producing this episode.


Music by A Himitsu

Track: 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: