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Wow. I’m having a hard time believing it’s August already.  Every year seems to slip by a little faster, but this summer has truly flown by, somehow without anything to show for it.   I haven’t gotten any of the yard work or household projects finished.   I’ve taken on so much that I can’t do anything but the side hustles.

This summer, I’ve been busy.  I teach classes one Saturday each month, I’ve picked up a couple of web design jobs,  I’m the webmaster for a nonprofit, and I’ve taken on an affiliate marketing project.    Oh, and I can’t forget my 50-hour-per-week day job or the ebook I’ve promised to help prep and launch.  With all of these projects, my cash flow situation is better than its been in a while, but my time is seriously crunched.

That’s not even counting the family activities.  We’ve had swimming lessons, birthday parties and family reunions…all in the last month.

Our family is seriously over-scheduled.  It seems like there is no downtime, which is a situation I’ve always tried to avoid in the past.   Somehow, I’ve lost the ability to say “no”.   Because of that, I’m now left with the impossible task of trying to scale back.  While I can’t abandon my commitments, I need to work towards resolving them all and not taking on more.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="196" caption=" "] [/caption]It’s time to scale back through attrition.   In a month or two, I should be down to a sane schedule again, and able to tackle the things I really want to do that have been indefinitely delayed.

Everybody takes on too much at times.  How do you avoid over-committing?

  • Learn to say no. It is okay to refuse to take on more projects.   You probably aren’t the first person to turn down the project and you probably won’t be the last.  Don’t assume its your responsibility.  It is fine to leave it for someone else.
  • Prioritize. Don’t prioritize your projects, prioritize yourself.  Know what you need to accomplish.  Know what you want to accomplish.  Deny the things that other people want you to accomplish if the new tasks don’t fall into the first two categories.   You need to feed your family.  You need to pay your bills.  You don’t need to take on the soccer team’s newsletter or volunteer to make 1000 cupcakes for some fundraiser.
  • Know your commitments. Most people overestimate how much available time they have while underestimating how long a new project will take.  This leaves them double-booked.  Take a realistic look at what you are currently doing, even if it means keeping a log of your day for a few weeks.  You’ll probably be surprised by what you are already doing.
  • Stay organized. If you aren’t keeping track of what you need to do, you’ll end up running around crazy trying to get it all done.  Keep a calendar and leave yourself notes.    I get daily reminders of what is on my Google calendar each morning.
  • Know your limitations. If you aren’t technical, don’t volunteer to build a website.  Do your strengths, let someone else deal with the things that are your weaknesses.

It’s entirely too easy to do too much.  When every moment of your day has two of more things that need to be done, you’ll do them all poorly.  How do you avoid taking on too much?

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    1. This is such good advice! I’m sure I’ve been judged before for keeping a low stress life on purpose, but I seem happier and healthier than 70% of the people that I know spend way too much time saying “yes” for projects they didn’t even want to do.

      Yesterday I had to choose between two volunteer jobs on August 28th since I wanted to do both but knew that volunteering for 9-10 hours straight would have burned me out. I chose the morning position and will hang out with my husband the rest of that Saturday…he gets up late anyway. 🙂

      Other than volunteering occasionally, I work 40 hours a week at my “real” job, 20-30 hours a week on my blog, and hang with friends and family Friday evenings and parts of the weekend. I don’t like pure downtime, but I can’t just stay 100% busy all the time either.

      Good luck with your schedule!

    2. Hi Jason, I like to read about others trials with balance, and over-commitment. Reading your article was a peak into just the kind of information I love. This is going straight to my link round up TODAY.

    3. I seem to flip flop between being over-scheduled and bored. Must be the type A thing. I have a hard time just relaxing, so if I have some free time, I almost unconsciously fill it up with some new project.

    4. Crystal, I wish I had that skill at saying no. I tend to pack it in and look back later to wonder what I was thinking.

      Barb, thanks!

      Sandy, I have no problem with downtime. I can easily find ways to distract myself or find leisurely things to do. I just take on far too many commitments.

    5. Jason, it’s a learned skill. I watched my mom feel used by school and kid activities for years and swore that I’d have my own life. I love to help and I really love to volunteer, but I also like having a little down time with my husband or simply vegging on tv or movies…

      Now I have mastered the, “Sorry, but I made a prior commitment. Please let me know if you may need me another day.” – this is for stuff that sounds good but bad timing…I leave off the second sentence if I just don’t want to do it at all. 🙂

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