2018 started off as a year where I thought I could do it all.
So many opportunities presented themselves to help out or do things that I enjoy doing, that I kept saying “Yes!” to all of them. It was only after I had to take a good hard look at how many hours I had in the day to accomplish “extracurricular activities” that I realized that it was physically impossible to do what I thought I could.
One thing I learned is that proper rest time is so incredibly important to how productive we are in any area of our lives. And it’s not just about being productive–if we are going to actually enjoy what it is we are doing, we need some breaks to the flow of the to do list. It is not sustainable to constantly be going and going. Here’s what needs to be done when the stress of the endless ‘to do’ list has creeps in.
Get rid of the “Shoulds”
There are many ways we suffer from the “shoulds” in our life—I should be doing this with my career, I should have that kind of car, I should be helping this person, I should always have clean and tidy life—we ‘should’ ourselves all day, every day. But how much more enjoyable would it be if we just spent our time doing the things we wanted to be doing? I’m not saying you’re letting go of important responsibilities, but perhaps some of those “shoulds” come more from a place of impressing or performing for yourself and others, and less from a place of what actually gives you true joy or makes you better. So ask yourself, what are your shoulds and where do they come from?
Create Boundaries: Say an empowered ‘NO’
After taking a good, hard look at your shoulds, it’s time to learn how to say ‘No’. There are ALWAYS people who are going to need us–need our time/talents, our listening ear, our help, our kindness. Throughout your life there will be no shortage of requests on you, but it doesn’t mean you need to say yes to all of the requests. When deciding which ones are worthy of your time, ask yourself FIRST if this request or demand is going to take you away from something that is really important to you. If no, then ask yourself if it’s something that you really enjoy doing. If it is, then go forth with enthusiasm! If enthusiastic is not the emotion you’re feeling, then politely and respectfully say no and commit your time and attention to what IS most important to you.
Start DOING the things you ENJOY
You’re likely thinking that there’s no way you could possibly add anything to the already exhaustible list, but at this stage you should have a slightly shorter list that looks big, but not insurmountable. So this is where I let you in on a little well known secret between the most happy and productive folks on the planet. If you mix your gifts, talents and the things that bring you joy into your schedule on a regular basis, you will get MORE done. How can that be? Because THESE are the things that allow you to truly blow off steam and fill up your cup. You can’t be nearly as productive in the things on your list when you’re constantly in a state of overwhelm and pouring from an empty cup. Get outside in nature for a walk, read a book, listen to a podcast you like. Give your cup time to refill with things that make you feel good so you can tackle that list efficiently, effectively and with enthusiasm.
I encourage you to grab your current to do list (or make one with the endless list on repeat in your head) and try these three things out! It’s only through a little reflection and retrospection can we choose differently, and it’s a whole lot better than waiting until we burnout to be forced into those choices. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish when you do less.
Paula Haubrich, ACC, ECPC
Alignment & Leadership Coach
“I help high achievers get it all done without burnout and sacrifice.”
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