The holidays are a time of year where most of us allow ourselves to splash out a little--we eat more than we should (and our waistlines reflect it), shop a little more than is sensible, and say yes to a few too many social engagements. Add to that the usual end-of-the year stresses that come with being an entrepreneur, and you have a recipe for a schedule that's as over full as your average festive dinner plate.

Such a big list of possible holiday commitments calls for an equally large set of tools to cope with the scheduling chaos. Thankfully, UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center has risen to the occasion, rounding up a monster list of ways to turn down unwanted invitations and impossible-to-meet work requests with polish and grace.

After detailing the avalanche of holiday-related requests bombarding her inbox, Christine Carter, director of the Greater Good Parents program, explains that while this influx of possible to-do list items is clearly excessive, she still struggles to streamline her schedule.

"Saying 'no' can be really hard--I hate making people feel bad for even asking. It takes practice to say no in a way that doesn't offend people, much less to say it in a way that makes folks feel happy they asked," she writes.

Carter has put in that practice and is willing to share what she's learned, offering a whopping 21 ways to say no effectively and politely on the Greater Good blog recently. If you're in particular high-demand, check out the complete post for the full set of ideas, or get yourself started with this selection of Carter's techniques:

1. Vague but effective

"Thank you for asking, but that isn't going to work out for me."

2. It's not personal

"Thank you for asking, but I'm not doing any interviews while I'm writing my book."

3. Ask me later

"I want to do that, but I'm not available until April. Will you ask me again then?"

4. Let me hook you up

"I can't do it, but I'll bet Shelly can. I'll ask her for you."

5. Keep trying

"None of those dates work for me, but I would love to see you. Send me some more dates."

6. Gratitude

"Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and support! I'm sorry I'm not able to help you at this time."

7. Five-minute favor

"I can't speak at your event, but I will help you promote it on my blog."

8. It's someone else's decision

"I promised my coach (therapist, husband, etc.) I wouldn't take on any more projects right now. I'm working on creating more balance in my life."

9. Setting boundaries

"'Let me tell you what I can do..." Follow this up by laying out exactly what you are comfortable committing to.

10. Say nothing

"Not all requests require an answer. It feels rude to ignore a request, but sometimes it's the best way for everyone to save face," concludes Carter.

Looking for more advice on when and exactly how to say no and keep control of your schedule? Wharton professor Adam Grant, time coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders, Aha! co-founder Brian de Haaff, and entrepreneur James Altucher have all offered interesting advice.

How out of control does your schedule get around the end of the year?

Published on: Dec 18, 2014