Telling someone no is never easy – be it a colleague asking for help with a project, or a friend who’d like you to proofread their resume. However, it’s important to learn how to say no effectively. If you take too long or wait until the last minute to say no, certain opportunities can be lost and important relationships damaged. A simple way to start declining is to give yourself a few minutes to think through and filter your commitments. Life Hack suggests:

Take into account which responsibilities you agreed to first and are most invested in, then pick the one or two that you simply don’t have time for. Saying no to something that you genuinely won’t be able to fit in can make it easier to stick to your guns. Plus, you allow yourself the time and space to complete your other commitments with one hundred percent attention.

Minimizing excuses is also important when saying no. Excuses leave room for interpretation and may allow someone to second guess your own schedule for you. Being direct and decisive closes the book, eliminating the chance the person will ask you again. Once you have some practice considering what you don’t need or can’t include in life, it will be easier to say no right when someone asks for your help and you’re overstretched.

Read all five tips from Life Hack.