4. Realize the simplicity of honesty ... and be honest.
I call this, “Say what you mean and mean what you say." If you don’t have time to take on another project, say so. Don't make excuses as a way to avoid saying no, and it won't feel good (physically or emotionally). In other words, giving an excuse is basically just lying, and comes with a price.
With practice, you'll find it actually feels better to simply say no without explanation, rather than having to whip up another fake migraine or to kill off another of your beloved grandparents. That said, feel free to keep the salient details to yourself. Staying home to binge watch "House of Cards" in your pajamas is a perfectly legitimate example of "having other plans."
5. Delay and walk away.
If you are still having a hard time saying no, or if your knee-jerk reaction is to always say yes with out thinking, memorize this: “Could I get back to you on that?” This simple phrase will buy you some time and distance in order to figure what it is you actually want to do and to come up with a response that feels authentic.
6. Expect to be uncomfortable.
When you are not used to saying no it can feel awkward at first, so be prepared to feel uncomfortable. Brene Brown uses the mantra “I choose discomfort over resentment” to remind herself that rather than be angry and resentful about doing something she doesn’t want to do, she is actively choosing the smaller discomfort of saying no upfront.
7. Practice, practice, practice.
Like any new skill, saying no takes practice. Expect that you will make mistakes or slip into old patterns but these are just opportunities to hone your skills for next time. And go easy on yourself. Start with saying no to people or situations that are further away from you emotionally. For instance, practice saying no to a neighbor's barbecue before you tackle bailing on your sister's cat's birthday party.
And have fun! When you start saying no to the stuff you don’t want in your life, you're gonna have WAY more energy and time for the stuff you love! Bring on the sweet life!