I guess we’ve all been there sometimes – waking up in the morning, tired of the very thought of the day ahead of us, still exhausted from yesterdays’ chores. Our already low levels of energy pop like a balloon when we visualize our very first errand and a seemingly neverending list of tasks waiting to be finished.
Sometimes, we don’t even notice when we start to overcommit and take on much more than we can handle. Some of us find it hard to say “no” to our bosses, friends, kids, or partners. Others find it hard to say “no” to themselves, yearning to achieve more or do better, in a culture that doesn’t tolerate the concept of “enough.”
However, having too much on your plate for a long time is a surefire way to burnout, which is now finally recognized as an official medical condition.
If it’s your work that is mainly affected, you may take sick leave. You can hardly take a break from your life if overcommitting is built into your everyday routine as well.
You need to reset some things in your life to regain the balance. Here are the five essential things to begin with.
1. Reconnect With Your Authentic Self
When we run through our days on autopilot, it’s easier than ever to lose touch with ourselves – persons we used to be, are, and we once hoped we would become.
In between taking our kids to school or after-school classes, getting the laundry done, and answering an “urgent” business email on Saturday evening, we rarely have a moment to spare to be alone with our thoughts, let alone our feelings, forgotten needs, and desires.
It’s not easy to reconnect with yourself once you lose this touch, and it will take a lot of determination to do so. Some succeed by journaling their feelings; some find techniques such as mindfulness or meditation helpful to reestablish this connection.
Others feel the need to embark on a journey and find the way to their inner beings while traveling, especially alone. My transformative path was a pilgrimage I took several years ago. As I can see, many others share a similar inspiration for walking the Camino de Santiago, and have similar experiences during and after hitting the road.
2. Re-Evaluate and Prioritize
Once you reconnect with your inner self, you’ll know your priorities almost spontaneously, as you will feel their value.
However, as this process will take some time, approach your list of errands more rationally, by answering the following:
- Do the things I devote my time to add value?
- If I commit to this, who will benefit?
- Is this commitment important for me, or do I enjoy it?
- Is there an easier or less time-consuming way to do it?
- Does it somehow affect my health?
- Can somebody else do it instead of me?
Going through these questions will help you decide between the tasks that are worthy of your time and energy and those that simply aren’t.
3. Delegate and Share Responsibilities
Along with learning to say “no,” you should consider learning how to identify the tasks you can delegate or share responsibilities for.
When you are left with the things that need to be done, try to determine whether those things need to be done by you or someone else may step up and pick up the slack.
If you’re overwhelmed with menial tasks on work, and if there’s no one to delegate these duties to, look for other resources, such as outsourcing or automating specific tasks. Think about all your household chores also. There are certainly errands your partner can take over, as well as your children. You don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders!
4. Learn to Say No
Learning when and how to say “no” is one of the tougher lessons one has to learn, but it’s vital for keeping balance in life. It is especially difficult when you have to say no to the things and people worthy of your time and effort.
Even if you want to do it all, remind yourself of the outcome- all the stress from not being able to manage, possibly failing to finish many instead of excelling at a few well-chosen activities while also deteriorating your peace of mind and health. Which one would you choose?
5. Ask For Professional Support
Not everyone’s plate can hold an equal portion, neither can we all handle the same amount of burden – regardless of whether it’s an emotional, professional, or physical one. Too much stress in our life takes a toll on both our physical and mental health and sometimes the reason behind our low energy levels lies in a chemical imbalance or inadequate coping mechanisms.
If you find that you’re overwhelmed with your everyday life, and seem to have difficulties coping with each new day, don’t go on feeling bad about yourself and comparing yourself to others, and all they seem to manage over the course of a single day.
At times, the support of a professional can be just what you need for your healing process to begin, and a way for your jigsaw to fall into place.
I’m Rebecca, a translator and avid traveler, a book worm and horror flick enthusiast. My job has given me the amazing opportunity to travel to dozens of countries around the world, and writing on Rough Draft gives me a chance to try to showcase some of them.
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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.