We all at times find we’re running on empty, but if you’re constantly overwhelmed by a crazily packed schedule, it’s time to explore the emotional reasons why you overcommit, says life coach Nina Grunfeld.
“Sometimes we overfill our diaries because it can make us feel important, needed and useful, or it may be that we simply find it hard to say no,” she explains. “Often we may agree to do something in the future for someone because we’re feeling rested and capable when they ask us, but then when the time comes we find we simply have too much on.”
As women, one of the ways we gain respect in life is through caring for others, so we can slip into a mindset of feeling we have to please everyone, which is unrealistic, adds psychologist and author Liz Tucker. Guilt is a key driver in making us say yes to the friend who needs a last-minute babysitter or the boss who wants us to work at the weekend. But the irony is the more you take on, the more likely you’ll end up letting people down, leading to even more guilt.
Being overcommitted can leave us feeling pulled in every direction. You only have limited time, so you have decide who and what to prioritise. One simple solution is to decide on just three things you want to achieve each day. You might decide to tackle the things you’re most worried about. The key is to make them three achievable things. Most likely, you’ll end up getting through more but ticking them off is a great way to clear your mind.
Another useful exercise is the ‘four D’s’ approach. Go through each thing on your to-do list and decide either 1) Do it now, 2) Delay it, 3) Delegate it or 4) Dump it. It’ll clear your mind for the day ahead.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you also need to learn how to say no. It’s not about saying a blanket ‘no’ to everyone, which is hard when it’s someone you care about, but instead asking for more time to make the decision. Stall them by saying: ‘I’ll look at my diary, ’ ‘Let me check with my partner’ or ’I’ll let you know later today . . .’ Then use this time to decide whether you really want to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
If you’re pressed for an immediate decision, say pleasantly, ‘Then I’ll have to say “no” for now’. Remember, every time you say ‘yes’ to someone else (when you don’t want to), you’re also saying ‘no’ to yourself.
Finally, try to build in some time each day to do nothing. In a world where we’re expected to be ‘always on’ being alone with your own thoughts can be the ultimate luxury.
Nina Grunfeld is the creator www.lifeclubs.co.uk and author of How To Get What You Want (£9.99, Walker)
Liz Tucker is founder of www.shepherdcreativelearning.co.uk