One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Stephen Covey. In his best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People he says: “It’s easier to say ‘no’ when you have a bigger ‘yes’ inside.” He uses an example where he describes the importance of doing the things that are truly important to you; things that are related to your goals, but not urgent and the importance of saying “no” to other people who might get you off track.
It might be uncomfortable to come right out and say “no,” and no one likes to hear it, however, there are ways to decline a request possibly without having to say “no” outright.
To achieve this, however, one must have a clear understanding of what their goals are and then set their priorities around them. One must be able to focus on those activities that are providing leverage towards their goals and not be diverted from that primary purpose.