The next time you're caught off guard by an unreasonable request for help, try asking the person how you should prioritize the new project, or tell them you're busy until a certain date, Kelly Gurnett writes. You can also say you need to check your calendar, and then follow up later with an e-mail declining their request. "Don’t offer any elaboration or excuses; all they need to know is that you can’t do it," Gurnett writes.

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