I'll bet if you asked any busy business owner or manager what they spend the the most time doing, it would be the art of telling people, "No." For years I've found this to be true in regards to running Tape Op Magazine. "No" may seem a negative word, but in order to keep focused on the work at hand, to maintain my vision of the magazine and to keep workflow manageable I end up spending many hours finding ways to (hopefully) gracefully say, "No." What do I usually spend my time saying "no" to? Listening to every CD submitted for review. Responding to PR requests to listen to these CDs. Downloading "albums" that will never physically be released. Anything mentioning the word "demo" unless related to a session I'm producing. Visiting a MySpace page and sending someone a 4000 word critique of their music. Watching most any video on YouTube. Article ideas that obviously don't fit the scope of Tape Op's interests. Article ideas that are presented by 90% of the PR people. Article ideas we have already published. Article ideas about live sound. Article ideas about post production. Article ideas about sound for broadcast. Article ideas about film soundtrack mixing. Suggestions for articles that seem only bent on benefiting the sender. Most requests to personally review products. Requests to personally review products that I would never use in the real world. Personal emails asking my opinion on two pieces of gear, neither of which I have ever used. Requests to be interviewed for students' school papers. Outside requests that involve more of Tape Op's time than we can afford. Requests for new product mentions. (Uh, where in the mag do you see these?) Requests to run press releases. (Uh, where in the mag do you see these?) Press releases that mention XXXX Studio installed XXXX console. (Where?) Press releases trumpeting the launch of a new studio. I'll wait until they have done lots of cool albums instead. Anything that mentions John Mayer. Intern requests. Requests for information on where to intern. Requests asking me who should track, mix or produce an upcoming album. Uh, don't I offer these services as well? Keeping one's self productive is difficult at times. If you find yourself not getting work done and feeling pulled in every which direction, think about the word "no" and how to use it effectively. "No."