A very important thing that a lot of people forget is that it’s okay to say “no”. It’s not to be mean or because you don’t want to be helpful, it’s because it is impossible to say “yes” to everything. Here are a few tips to help you say no, but in a positive light, to keep yourself from taking on more than you can handle.
Make a list of your priorities, be sure to include all your responsibilities, and account for time with your friends, family, and even the much needed “you” time. Spreading yourself too thin will cause stress and make all of your activities, even the fun ones, feel like a chore. When you overcommit, you’re not always presenting your best self. If you get asked to do something that doesn't fit in your schedule, say “no” and explain that you just don’t have time.
Don’t make excuses
It’s not necessary to provide a reason, excuse, and especially not a lie after saying no. It is okay to just say no, because you can’t help or because you don’t want to. Chances are the excuse you provide will have a solution. For example, if you don’t want to help your friend move out and you say, “my back has really been hurting me, I shouldn’t be lifting things,” that is an excuse that can be fixed by you taking the lighter things. Instead just say, “I can’t help you move out, I have other things I need to do.”
A lot of times people think not saying anything is better than just saying no. False. Leaving someone guessing and waiting for an answer is rude and doesn't set a good precedent for next time. The first no can be difficult, but each one gets easier after that. Even if at first you need to ask for some time to check your schedule to gather your courage, don’t leave someone unanswered.
Still be helpful
Just because it’s a no from you, doesn’t mean it’s a no from everyone. Think about other people in your network and consider suggesting a friend, family member or even professional that could help with the task at hand. Those sources may even be more helpful than you are. Maybe offer some advice, to help them make the job easier. For example, if they need help studying for an exam, tell them about your favorite study method or see if you have any resources you could give them.