I’ve always been a creative person, starting new projects for myself on a weekly basis. But things changed when I had a child. I no longer had all the time in the world to pursue my creative visions or new opportunities that came my way. I realized I had to create a balance between work and home life, and focus my time on the projects that mattered most: I had to learn to say “no”—to myself.

At first, it was difficult for me. So I decided to create a strategy to help me decide if I should say “yes” or “no” to a new creative idea or potential opportunity.

Closely consider the project or opportunity and its benefits

Ask yourself these questions: Will it be lucrative? Will I find it personally-rewarding? If yes, then do it! If no, then ditch it or put it on the back burner.

When you have limited time (which can be the case even if you don’t have children or family obligations), you don’t want to spend it on something that isn’t creatively-fulfilling or beneficial to your career. And sometimes putting a project or opportunity on the back burner allows you to view it from a new perspective in the future.

Talk to people about your idea

Mention the project or opportunity to a few friends. Are they just as excited about it as you are? Then it’s probably something you should pursue. Creative people can sometimes “stay in our heads” and feel like every new idea is the best one ever. But sometimes talking to an informal focus group or trusted friend can help weed out the ideas or opportunities that are worth pursuing. Bonus: it gives you an accountability buddy too.

Put a timer on it

Schedule time to spend on your new project or opportunity each day—it can help you stay focused. For example, I find that I’m most inspired toward the end of the day, so I try to reserve part of that time for creative or personal projects.

These tips can help you learn to say “no” and most importantly, to focus your time on the projects and pursuits that really matter.