Are You an Over-Committer?
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
Recently I found myself very stressed out. My blood pressure was up and I was irritable and anxious about a myriad of things. In a conversation with Marisa, she asked if taking a couple of days off put me behind, and, well, she was right. I also noticed that things were falling off my plate. I was forgetting things and taking much longer to get back to people. At home, it was the same story, and everyone was noticing it. Summer is coming, the yard is a mess, the deck needs some repair, and guests are planning to visit. I’m sure you are all in the same boat. So, what are we to do? Do we forget taking time off? Do we just work more hours each day? It was time for me to stop, reflect, and adjust.
Reflection Time – As I reflected on the last six to nine months, I saw a pattern. The pandemic has put stress on every organization, and I knew that revenue would be tight, so beginning last fall, I took on as much work as I could find. I kept telling myself it was short-term and the stress would pay off. It worked well, so I kept it up into January, February, March. Do you see a pattern here? I over-committed and over-committed, and eventually, things started to come apart. I started forgetting things and working longer hours to keep commitments. Working in the evening became normal. Lastly, I was being miserable to those around me.
Over-commitment is a serious problem. It affects the quality of our work, the quality of our relationships, and our physical and mental health. Our relationships at work and home suffer. In the end, we will begin resenting the very job we love and maybe some of the people we work with. We can even start resenting our hobbies.
Adjustment Time – So, knowing the problem is the beginning of the solution. Doing something about it is equally critical. I needed to find ways to break the cycle of over-committing. As I reflected on my issues, Michael Hyatt’s Lead to Win podcast titled “Why You Need to Spend Your Days on Paper” appeared. In this podcast, Michael and his daughter Megan spoke about taking your entire year and planning it out on paper, starting with your vacations. You basically start with 365 days and start subtracting your days. This incredible tool helps you see how much capacity you really have. It enables you to prioritize your commitments before you make them.
Another tool that I had used but gave up last fall was my ideal week. This tool allowed me to schedule activities based on my most productive times. It also carved out days for preparation and wrapping things up. It’s time to put that tool back in play. My reflection also told me that I need to pause before I commit. Just a short pause to see if the request will move closer to my values and goals. If the answer is no, I need to learn to say no.
I am already starting to feel better. Just knowing the cause and beginning to implement a plan has changed my mindset. This will take time, and I will keep you in the loop as I take this journey. If you would like to hear more tips that I have found to break the habit of over-committing, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 206 of The Next Page podcast.