When it's so hard to say no, it's so easy to overcommit. Get around this issue by responding with a "Yes, if..." to requests for your time and energy that don't have the highest value for you.
Photo by PinkMoose.
The Strategy+Business blog recommends saying "yes" to the demands or requests that you are most skilled at meeting and that have the greatest value to your company. For everything else, add that "if" and find other ways to meet those requests without over-burdening you:
This discerning approach forces you to address your capacity problem head-on. It may mean delegating some tasks to others, negotiating a reduction in your specific contribution, or just saying no while making the business case for why your contributions will have a greater impact elsewhere. A secondary benefit of questioning the value and ownership of a task is that you confirm whether it needs to be done in the first place, and you challenge the assumption that it should be done the way it is being done.
So, for example, "yes, I can do that project -- if the deadline can be moved two weeks back" or "yes, I can get you that TPS report if someone else can do the other TPS report on my plate." You don't have to say "no," and you also protect yourself from taking on more than you can handle.
"Yes" vs. "Yes, If...": Using Your Distinctive Contribution to Manage Priorities [Strategy+Business]