Stop Overcommitting

It’s easy to overestimate how much you can do in a day. The hard part is realizing that you can’t do it all.

Overcommitment is when you agree or tell yourself to do more things than you can get done in a certain amount of time. It happens not only in the workplace, but also at school with class projects and after-school activities. It’s a very stressful thing to deal with, and is even worse if you combine it with procrastination! The good news is it is a habit, like procrastination; therefore, you can get rid of it.

Why do we have this problem? I think it’s largely due to thinking we can do more in a day than we really can. Again, it’s overestimating. Overestimating our time, overestimating ourselves, underestimating the difficulty of what we’re facing. We think “I should be able to ___ in __ days/hours/etc.” and blindly overschedule ourselves.

Victims of the “Overcommitment” Habit…

While everyone has most likely stretched themselves too thin at one time or another, these types of people are most likely to revisit it again and again:

->Yes-men and Yes-women
These are the people who say “yes” to practically anything they are asked to do, perhaps out of fear or just because they can’t say no. For obvious reasons, these people likely have issues with having way too much on their to-do-lists!

->”I-just-finished-this-big-project-so-I-feel-inclined-to-take-on-seven-more!” people
These are the people who lose all their stress once they’ve completed a project or task and feel energized, ready to take on something else. That’s a good thing. The problem is that they turn into yes-men/women and say “Yes!” to too many things.
This is the one that I tend to be… ^^;

->”I-want-to-be-as-involved-as-possible!” people
Again, for obvious reasons, these people have trouble with overcommitting because they try to be a part of almost everything, whether it’s at church with groups and activities, or at school with sports and after-school clubs.

There are probably more, but let’s move on. 🙂

…and how to stop being one:
Know that it IS OKAY to say NO once in a while. People should understand. You’re not expected to do everything; nor are you expected to do everything by yourself. If you find yourself in over your head, ask for help, and then start saying no to those things you really don’t think you can do. If you’re not sure if you have the time to do something, consider what’s already on your plate. Look at trends. Is something taking longer than expected? Did you join a group or club and now have those responsibilities? Look at your calendar. How many days are filled with things to do? Consider how you’re feeling. If you’re tired, and have been tired, or are starting to feel a bit “under the weather” you might just want to turn down the request.
If saying no is something you just don’t like to do, remember that there are nice ways to say it, and if someone gets unreasonably upset (keyword: unreasonably) with you because you turned them down, they probably didn’t deserve your help in the first place.

“I-just-finished-this-big-project-so-I-feel-inclined-to-take-on-seven-more!” people
Slow down and take a look at your to-do list before you open up those requests again! Is it really empty? If it is, start out by taking on only one or two requests. Think realistically based on past experience and what the project entails. How much time will you need to complete this? Is it actually going to take you a week instead of two days like you’d originally thought? Good! Now that you know that, you can work  energetically, knowing that you can focus on just those two projects.
Take into consideration that life happens, and that you might have to take care of something unexpectedly or be invited to your niece’s birthday party. Give yourself a few extra days to allow “breathing room” for those things to happen, so you won’t have to stress out over completing those projects.

“I-want-to-be-as-involved-as-possible!” people
You can’t be a part of everything. You’re only one person. So look over everything several times before making a decision on what you want to join. With high-school sports…do the practice times or dates clash? What about game dates? Do they conflict with any clubs you belong to? What about previous engagements like weekend family trips? In church…do you really want to join that small group or are you just looking for people to talk to? Maybe instead of joining every group, visit them all in rounds.

It’s not always easy to gauge how much of yourself you can spread to different things, though. Maybe you really can do something in the amount of time you’re given, but something always comes up. So always plan for those things. Give yourself extra time, and if something comes up, it will be okay. If everything goes smoothly, it will look good because you will have gotten the task completed earlier than your deadline. ^_^

->Review current workload
->Plan for disturbances: give yourself extra time just in case (ex. three days)
->NOW make your decision. Will you take on the project or not?
->If you do, don’t procrastinate! ^_~
->If you don’t want to take on the project, just say no. Give a good reason and be nice about it. 🙂

(If you noticed, the advice is similar for all three groups of people, so it’s a good idea to look at all of it. Also, it may sound I’m talking to adults for the most part, but I’m talking to kids too. After all, I’m a kid myself.  XD)

-Thank you to ClarkPHP for the prompt.-

One Reply to “Stop Overcommitting”

  1. Excellent post. I recognize myself in your words, and you’ve described some specific actions to take in order to get oneself back on track.

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