Saying "no" is an important time-saving skill to learn, especially for those of us who worry too much about being liked by others. Having a "no script" planned out ahead of time can make saying "no" in a nice manner much easier.
Photo by Henry Burrows.
Ron Friedman at Harvard Business Review suggests you think of the best ways to say no ahead of time, and write it out. That way you're not searching for words when you want to say no and have something to quickly fall back on. Friedman explains:
...you don't have to stop and think about how to phrase your response each time you need to turn someone down. Create an email template, or write out a script that you can use when doing it in person.
When you start planning out your "no script" think about all the things that make saying no more effective. Use the phrase "I don't" instead of "I can't" when possible, make the no about the request not the person asking and make it easy to include a reason why.
For example, your "no script" could be something like "I don't have time right now because [reason], but I'd love to help you out with something in the future." Eventually, saying no to frivolous tasks will become a time-saving reflex.
9 Productivity Tips from People Who Write About Productivity [Harvard Business Review]