Not only do you not have time to do everything, but you can’t do everything well. As you become more important, more valuable, more wanted, your time still remains constant at 24 hours a day. And your need for sleep doesn’t decrease.
Every time you say “yes” to something you are implicitly saying “no” to other things.
When asked to do something, consider the following:
- Is it something you can do well? Maybe you are not the right person to do it. Maybe someone else can do it better/easier/faster/etc. For example, financials are not a strong point for me. When I’ve been early in a startup, I’ve wanted a good financial person there.
- Is it something you can do a great job on? If you are only capable of doing a (what my father would call) “half-assed” job, you shouldn’t do it. I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t take on projects that stretch your capabilities, because you should, but for example, I should not write a compiler, manage a team of salespeople, or open a wine store (although that sounds pretty cool!).
- Do you have the time to do it? “I’d love to but I do not have enough time to do a great job” has a nice ring to it sometimes. Will doing it take time away from other things you are doing possibly causing a substandard performance? I’d love to dive headfirst deeper into forensics for example, but no way do I have the time to do it right!
You can just say no without explanation.
Remember that “No” is a complete sentence. You do NOT need to say why. That often gets into discussions on “How” instead of “No.”
Of course sometimes you have no choice! You might be the logical choice to do it among a group of bad choices. You may need to take one for the team. Or you may have one of these “boss” things which I hear can be unreasonable at times!