Are you about to experience dam failure? Let me explain what I mean. As a CEO Coach, I have conversations with leaders of companies from a variety of industries, shapes and sizes. Yet one pattern that nearly all these business leaders share is that they say “yes” too often.

Think about your schedule like a reservoir with the dam. Every time you say yes to something, you’re adding more and more water to that reservoir. Say yes too often and pretty soon you’re going to have to open the spillway to let something else out. Keep this up for a while, and eventually you’ll experience dam failure.

To protect your reservoir of time, I’m going to give two tips that you can use to help you say “no” more often than you say “yes.”

The first deals with saying no to others. The more successful you become as a business owner or a CEO, the more people will be drawn to you. They’ll want you to be involved in their projects. That’s not to say that you should say no to all of them, but you need to be judicious in the “yeses.”

A simple way to handle this is to ask for requests through email. Email allows you to review their request in a calm environment, away from social pressure, and view it in relation to your calendar. Then, if you decide to say no, you can take your time to craft a diplomatic response.

The second tip deals with saying no to yourself. Most entrepreneurs, business owners, and CEOs are great idea generators. They have many ideas about business improvements or maybe even new business ventures. However, when they say yes to too many of those ideas, pretty soon they have to open the spillway of their time reservoir, causing them to neglect other things—or, even worse, experience dam failure.

I recommend using a perhaps list. A perhaps list is a running list of all those great ideas that you have. Put ideas on that list, and then set up a schedule—perhaps once per month—to review that list and decide whether it’s time to add something new to your already busy schedule. These two simple tips will help protect your precious time and focus. Follow them consistently, and you’ll go a long way toward avoiding dam failure.

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Dave Crenshaw is an author, speaker and CEO coach. He has appeared in TIME magazine, Forbes, SIRIUS XM Radio, and the BBC News. His first book, The Myth of Multitasking: How ‘Doing It All’ Gets Nothing Done, has been published in six languages and is a time management best seller. His latest book, Invaluable: The Secret to Becoming Irreplaceable, is also an organizational behavior and motivational bestseller. Dave has helped thousands of clients worldwide harness chaos, get focused, and build invaluable businesses. For videos and articles from Dave, visit