I see it every day: The more popularity, responsibility or power someone has, the more others want from them. Thus, what one needs is a way to manage these demands without appearing unfriendly. The following points can help.
- Don’t say no, say a qualified yes: Sometimes, you really want to help, but don’t have much time. Then you can offer a “light” version of helping out completely, such as one hour to get the other person started, etc. Often, this is even empowering for the other person, because you help them to help themselves, instead of doing it for them.
- Ask for them to do something first or to contribute. For example: haven them send an email with a few notes clarifying what they want. It is my experience (with myself and others) that what initially seemed very important can quickly lose its urgency if it doesn’t come for free. Then even a simple reminder email they should send you can be enough of a “deterrent”.