Do you know how to say 'no'? I used to be terrible at this, and I'd always wind up overcommitted, whether at work or as a volunteer.
I've gotten a lot better at picking and choosing when I say "Yes," and I've had some help from books, as well as my own trial-and-error. No! How One Simple Word Can Transform Your Life by Jana Kemp gave me a nudge in this worthy direction 10 years ago, and Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown gave me a booster shot in 2014. (I did a mini-review of the latter volume for INVISION's epic Year of Reading Seriously feature last year.)
Carl Richards likes Essentialism, too, and he wrote about it today in The New York Times, in a story headlined Saying No, So You Can Say Yes When It Matters. And that's the point: Of course you don't want to decline every request and every opportunity. But knowing when to say "Yes" and when to pass takes diplomacy, practice and skill. As you get better at this, you learn to treat your time and energy like the finite gifts they are.
As I've become an ever-more disciplined essentialist, I've come to believe in the power of the "Hell, Yeah." When I get a request for my time or talent, or when I think of something new I might want to try, I seriously consider whether I want to answer "Yes" or "Hell, Yeah!" Because when you look at things that way, most of the things that evoke a mere "Yes" probably ought to get a "No, thank you."
But when you can say "Hell, Yeah" (or some variation on that, depending on your taste in oaths) to an opportunity or an idea, you know you're really on to something exciting and worthwhile that will make a difference in your life -- and probably in the lives of the people who are counting on you, too: your family, employees, customers and colleagues.