Am I doing too much? A small guide to keeping the Stress of Busyness Low
It's hard to know when you're doing too much, eh?
Well... no. Usually we know too well when we feel harried or stressed. What is much harder is deciding beforehand what will overload us. We may not have known that what we perceived as a simple yes or favor to someone would turn into a thrice the time and twice the stress than we anticipated.
I have begun a new line of thinking. In general, it is probably better to say no just a little sooner than you think you would need to. The thinking behind this is simple: you are building a margin into your life. If we account for every minute then we end up as the revered veterinarian of the early decades of the 20th century: sweating and cursing at the jostling animals that won't cooperate with our schedule.
Of course, we're not dealing with animals, mostly. We have to learn the arts of the social human being, the business profession, the church community, humanitarian aid, and of course, ourselves.
There are exceptions; illnesses, crisis, wars, etc. We can't keep out these things all the time. But there is a difference between:
1. Survival Mode
2. Thrive Mode
Don't you too often feel like you're in survival mode? I do. Events and to-do's sweep me up and carry me off in a powerful current when learning the the power of simple no would suffice.
Are you in survival mode because circumstances are really crappy right now? Or are you in survival mode because you can't say no?
If the former, batten the hatches and hunker low to ride out. Don't worry about letting the edges of things slip to be repaired later. Survival is key. If you eat and stay reasonably clean and sustain life you are doing well.
If the latter, I wonder, wouldn't it be better to build the essentials of your week and month - things you know you want or need in your life - and then decide how much of the superfluous or extra-curricular can go into it. For example:
Sleeping --> Eating --> Working --> Self and family care --> Education --> Social --> Entertainment --> etc
That's just a sample, of course, but if you see something higher up the food chain suffering for a lesser choice then consider saying no to that. It's not worth the extra TV episode if you'll lose out on sleep that will in turn affect your appetite, work, self and family, and ultimately, drive you back to losing yourself in more entertainment.
It's also not worth becoming a slave to your own expectations of how life should look. I personally think sometimes life gets really messy just to prove to me that I can't make it all perfect. Sometimes I have to say no to perfectionism, sometimes to recognizing when I'm trying too hard, sometimes to social events, sometimes to a TV episode. No's are a fundamental part of life, and when used well, liberating. Working hard is a good thing, but don't burden yourself with optimism that can't be supported by a real life.
We can't do it all.
Think about it. Would it free you to say no more often?