Over Committing :: How to bring moderation back into life
Many of us are creative go getters. We have our own projects and work, but somehow, we always take on the projects and work of others too. Someone says “I sure could use help with this” or “we need volunteers for that” and even though we already have a full plate we say “I can do that! No problem”. And most of the time it works out just fine, but as people learn that you are the “go to girl” more people ask and so even though you may say “no” more often, you still are saying “yes” to more commitments. How do you find a balance? And what do you do once you realize you don’t have the time in the day to get everything done.
Let’s just assume you are completely over committed, be it with hours at work or school or charity or family stuff or friend meet ups. You are stressed and your quality of work is low and the quality of life is getting lower by the minute. The first thing I do is write it all down. What do I have on my plate anyway? This will help from things creeping up on you and smacking you in the face.
Then you go through the list and figure out what you can get rid of. And at first it may look like nothing can be. “but I said I would” or “but I already paid for the class” or “we haven’t hung out in weeks”. Well, your sanity is more important and the world will go on. Drop the elective you took for “fun” or the volunteer work where there are plenty of volunteers, or reschedule the lunch with the friend – if they are your friend, they will understand.
Keep the things you have to do – don’t just stop showing up to work, don’t stop cooking good food (that will intensify the stress if you are eating take out all the time), don’t neglect your family, and keep the commitments that you need to. You get the idea.
And then, when you are faced with “hey, do you want to do this with me/for me?” how do you know what you should say “yes” to. My default position that has now saved me a million times over is to say “let me go home and check my calender and I’ll call you/email you about it”. Whether it’s double scheduling or over committing that is the threat to my peace of mind, changing my default response to “let me check and get back to you” instead of “sure sounds great” (what I used to say all the time) has saved me more times than I can count.
Never ignore that nagging feeling of “I think I already have something planned that night/that time/that day” more often than not, it is correct. Just this past week I saved myself a lot of anguish by just saying to myself “I’m just going to assume this feeling is right and not commit to working past 5pm” As it turned out, I had forgotten I was teaching a class that night at 6:30. It worked out perfect, but what a mess I could have been.
Make sure to always keep your priorities in mind when your time is tight. When you say yes to something, is it something you will enjoy? that will bring you stress? something that will lead to better things? It’s hard and sometimes you feel selfish, but if you really want a night of tea with just your knitting more than a beer with friends – be true to that. Sometimes, you really do just need a night to yourself. But sometimes, with deadlines looming and impending doom and destruction coming your way – a beer with friends is more important than pulling an all nighter. I often find that if I stop being social and try to just “work more” to get everything done, my productivity drops and I get less bang for my buck in the creativity output. It’s better to take a break, regroup, and remember that the world won’t end if you take a 2 hour break. Moderation is key. Don’t work yourself to death and indulge so much that you don’t get things done. Sounds easy right.
Speaking of deadlines and knitting and tea – I need to get to my own knitting deadline.
ps – I put together a new pattern for Green Prairie Fibers – it’s a simple top down ribbed sock pattern. It’s $1 or free with the purchase of any Green Prairie Fibers sock yarn. I’m excited. I’m trying to write up more patterns lately for my hand dyed yarns – more commitments, but this is one of those things that’s important to me, hehe. And I also added it to the Kro Studio shop – hooray to that too!