High performers usually focus on only a few things at a time. The more you take on, the greater the chance that you will lose effectiveness not only in getting that task done but most likely in all aspects of your life.
Use these tips for saying no to keep you on track and save you time:
• Know what your goals and priorities are. As One-Minute Manager author Ken Blanchard says, “A person who does not have goals is used by someone who does.”
If you have a plan for managing your work and time, it is easier to say no to new activities that don’t fit into your agenda.
• Be realistic about the consequences of doing one more thing. The best approach is to be honest and direct.
For example, say, “If I do this, I won’t be able to get to do the other things that I’ve committed to do.” When a new opportunity comes your way, compliment the idea (if you feel it has merit) before declining to participate.
• Offer alternatives and solutions. Suggest someone else who you feel could do a better job or who is available sooner to work on the task.
If the request is from your boss, suggest a project or priority that you are doing that could be dropped, delayed or given to someone else.
— Adapted from 101 Ways to Make Every Second Count, Robert W. Bly, Career Press.