A little finesse goes a long way when you start saying no to unreasonable clients, low pay or other things that are unlikely help your career or increase your happiness in the long run. Not every job, module or meeting is going to lead to more of the kinds of opportunities you want. Figuring out how to say no gracefully, helps you build and maintain good formal and informal relationships. Some verbal self-defense can help keep you from get "voluntold" or otherwise stuck with work that you really shouldn't be doing. Clarifying your project or company's larger goals can help you narrow the scope of tasks that seem to have no real finish line so you can get them off your plate in a timely fashion.
Deb Nicholson wants to make the world a better place with technology and social justice for all. After many years of local political organizing, she started handling outreach for the Free Software Foundation and became an enthusiastic free software activist. She likes talking to developers about software patents, to project maintainers about leadership and activists about free software. She is currently the community outreach director at the Open Invention Network and the community manager at GNU MediaGoblin. She also serves on the board at Open Hatch, a.k.a. Free Software's Welcoming Committee. She lives with her husband in Cambridge, Massachusetts -- surrounded by a community of food nerds and noisy musicians.