From the June 1999 issue of Startups

Is it easier for you to say yes when a client or associate asks you for a favor? If so, now is the time to realize you can't do everything. Face it--there are only so many hours in a day, and if you don't say no at some point, you'll never get ahead (or any sleep!).

1. Be selfish with your time. When you say yes to one thing, often you'll have to say no to something more enjoyable. Look at your schedule and determine whether you really have time to tackle one more project. If not, be honest, be direct. Say no.

2. When there's no more room left on your plate, let the person know you're too busy to meet his request, then recommend someone else for the task. Keep in mind that whomever you recommend is a reflection on you. Don't suggest someone unless you have first-hand knowledge of his or her capabilities.

3. If you know you'll be unable to meet your client's deadline, discuss a more realistic date. If you can't compromise, be diplomatic and turn down the project. Some clients will gladly wait for you to begin working on their project.

4. Offer an alternative to no. If an associate asks you to help him with a project, review your own deadlines. If you have no time to help him with a certain aspect of his project, offer to help with a smaller task. You could even switch tasks with that person. He may enjoy doing a task you despise and vice versa.

Lisa Kanarek (http://www.everythingsorganized.com ">www.everythingsorganized.com) is a home office organizing expert and author of several books, including Organizing Your Home Office For Success (Blakely Press) and 101 Home Office Success Secrets (Career Press).