If you learn how to say no without saying no, you can make short work of this ADHD struggle. Here are some strategies that work for me:
1) say “let me get back to you on that.” Buying yourself time can relieve the pressure of having to make the decision in the moment. It also means you can respond by email, txt, or any way you find easier.
2) Ask the person to help you prioritize the task with your current big priorities. This helps the requester gain perspective. When I do this with a boss, they will often withdraw the request or tell me to back-burner one of my other priorities.
3) say yes with the caveat that you are really busy and are not sure when you will have time. When I use this, the other person will often tell me the request wasn’t really that important. Even if they don’t, at least you have limited their expectations.
4) Ask the person to do something first. This works really well to filter out frivolous requests. For example, if someone asks you to help clean their basement, you could ask them to purchase bins for organizing and storage to make the job easier. Tell them to let you know when they have that done. This puts the onus back on them to demonstrate the request is really important to them.
5) Counter request. Let’s use the basement clean out example again. You’d say “Sure, I’d love to help. Are you available next weekend to help me do the same?” Sometimes this can make the person realize their request is too big. Other times you end up helping them and then they help you. This sort of reciprocal relationship can be very good for us ADHDers because it can help motivate us to get things done.
6) what’s the budget? People often make off the cuff requests without much thought. When you ask them to open their wallets they will pause to reconsider. It may not always mean they withdraw the request but you will at least have a budget to work with.
Hopefully you find these suggestions helpful.