Of course, emergencies come up all the time. This is not about those. This is about the times when people put you on the spot with what they deem urgent matters and want your time or assistance.
Some examples: The person who didn’t do their part before a deadline. The kid who forgot about buying some supplies until the very last minute. The relative who wants you to deal right now with something that is stressing them.
Not all emergencies are real emergencies. Sometimes, it is their poor planning or time management that got them into the conundrum that they are now in. Sometimes, it is their discomfort with waiting for a resolution to their stressful issue. That doesn’t have to become your emergency.
Even though you want to genuinely help others, don’t feel the pressure to say “yes” on the spot. You can say ‘no’. “Wow, that sounds tough. I can’t help you with that at this time.” “Tonight is family time, I can’t go out for coffee with you to talk about this.” “If I say ‘yes’ to you, I’d be saying ‘no’ to my own work.” “I can help you with this in a few days, if it can wait.” You could then refer them to another resource that could be of assistance.
It is important to keep your own priorities first. Set boundaries and stick to those. Come up with your way(s) of saying ‘no’.