What to Do When You Find Yourself Over-Committed?

This month has been crazy busy. I have spoken publicly a dozen times already, and the month isn’t even over! In addition, I’ve had to finalize our strategic plan and attend two different board meetings. I’ve been on the road almost non-stop.

A Businessman Rushing Our of the Office with His Briefcase - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/PeskyMonkey, Image #9381744

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/PeskyMonkey

Who’s to blame? Me. I did it to myself.

If you are just getting started with Evernote, I suggest that you buy Brett Kelly’s remarkably practical e-book, Evernote Essentials, 4.0. It will save you HOURS of learning Evernote on your own.

Have you ever found yourself in this situation, feeling like you have too much work and not enough margin? I have probably had four conversations on this very topic in the last two days.

The good news is that it can change. Here are seven strategies I am following:

  1. Accept responsibility. I am in this state because I made these commitments. No one forced me. No one held a gun to my head. As long as I am the victim, I am powerless to change. But the truth is, I have a choice. I can decline the work, delegate it, or—at the very least—negotiate the deadlines.
  2. Confront my fears. So often I over-commit because I am afraid to say, “no.” Sometimes, I am just afraid of disappointing someone. Or getting fired. Or not having enough work. Or missing an opportunity.
  3. Retain my perspective. This is a “season.” I’ll get through it, really I will. I just need to take a deep breath and acknowledge that “this, too, shall pass.” I have also discussed it with Gail, my wife, and several of my friends, so they don’t get frustrated, too.
  4. Triage my calendar. Perhaps there are some things that I can still get out of in order to buy myself some additional time. Believe me, I think it is important to keep my commitments (see Psalm 15:4). But that doesn’t mean I can’t request a release, ask for an extension, or delegate the project to someone else.
  5. Do the next most important thing. Worrying about everything I must get done is unproductive. It only creates anxiety. Yes, my workload may look impossible, but why dwell on it? Instead, I am trying to focus on the next most important thing—and keep moving. I try not to get ahead of myself. I have memorized Matthew 6:34:

    Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

  6. Get sufficient rest. I can tackle almost anything, provided I’ve had a good night’s sleep. When I get tired (as my wife can attest), I lose perspective. I also find it difficult to focus and become easily distracted. Two hours in the morning after a good night’s sleep are way more productive for me than two hours at night when I am worn out.
  7. Decide to change. I know that I must deliberately build margin into my life. No one else is going to do this for me. I can’t go on like this—and I don’t have to. But I must build new boundaries—and enforce them—or I will soon find myself in the same situation.

I have another two weeks to go before my calendar eases up. But I beginning to feel hopeful. I can see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Questions: What about you? Are you feeling over-committed? What are you going to do about it?
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  • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

    Excellent post. I often find myself overcommitted with several projects on my plate at a time. I know that I do it to myself. Honestly, I enjoy the busy-ness. If I sit still, I feel as though I'm not doing everything that I can be doing for myself, the community, the world, etc. I've learned that I have to intentionally set aside time for myself to just be. It comes down to being the master of my own schedule and blocking out appointments with myself to just read, relax, or watch the occasional movie. Thanks for the post. I love to see your process for dealing with this.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like to be busy, too; however, I’m trying to be more conscious of the line that I sometimes cross where I am too busy.

  • http://www.peopleskillsdecoded.com Ed – People Skills D

    Hi Michael,

    Yeah, I've definitely over-committed myself a couple of times. In my case, it was mostly because I had the opportunities to do some awesome things and I thought I'll never have those opportunities again. It was scarcity thinking on my part. Once I've learned the world is full of opportunities, I started saying no to some of them, or at least 'not right now'.



    • http://modernservantleader.com/ Ben Lichtenwalner

      I like that Eduard – it does not have to be "no" – just not right now. This aligns with the prioritization comment I make below too.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Your point about scarcity thinking is so true. It also happens with the people presenting the opportunity. They can make you think that if you don’t take immediate action, the opportunity goes away. Often, it doesn’t.

  • http://www.epicparent.tv Chris Spradlin

    Michael…I was actually having this exact discussion last night w/ a friend and his wife. In the past, family time was one of the first thing to go when I am in a busy season. To mitigate this i have asked my wife to work directly w/ assistant to make sure that "family time" goes on the calendar. My assistant schedules lunches w/ the kids @ school, taking them to school, date nights w/ my wife, etc…. For me, I have established that a non negotiable is family…so these are the steps i have taken to make sure that happens. great post…thanks for the reminders!

  • http://www.colleencoble.com Colleen Coble

    Deadline month I always feel frantic. Conference month in September is another place that has me wringing my hands sometimes. But what works for me is to remind myself I can do what I have to do THIS DAY. If I look at the calendar too far ahead, I get panicked. But if I take it one day at a time, set my goals for that one day, then I get through it. I reach the end of that season and thing, shew, I made it thanks to God's grace day by day!

    Great post, Mike!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen, Colleen. I like focusing on THIS day. Through Christ, I have all the resources I need to handle what He has given me to do.

  • http://modernservantleader.com/ Ben Lichtenwalner

    Prioritize: You hit the nail on the head with "Do the next most important thing". Once over-committed, tackling tasks in the right priority will ensure that even if you don't get everything done – at least the most important items will be addressed. Of course, proper prioritization for me is not just about work, but time for faith and family first.

    A great post Michael. As always, I appreciate your candor and transparency. I also took away the reminder on rest – something I have not done enough of lately. Thank you for sharing.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I enjoyed meeting you and Trina in Grand Rapids, Ben. Thanks so much for coming out to hear me speak!

      • http://ModernServantLeader.com Ben Lichtenwalner

        Trina and I had a great time meeting you and Gail as well. We learned a lot and I thought your assessment of the younger generations was very accurate. Great job.

  • http://www.joannamuses.com/ joanna

    At the moment I am a bit over committed but that is because for a period of a month or two finishing old things (the academic year ect.) overlap with starting new things (learning what I need to know for my new ministry and mentoring roles and applying for my postgrad course for next year). Thankfully I have been able to drop some stuff I wasn't enjoying so much and just ended up draining me.

    One thing I have learned is even when I am over-committed is to not drop meeting with friends and my mentor. Doesn't have to be for long- even just an hour between classes. It is tempting to drop those things when I get busy but I am so much worse off if I try to be managing on my own.

    To do lists are also very helpful when there is lots on the go. My iPod touch with all my to do lists died this week. I've definitely noticed the difference not having all my lists on hand. I use awesome note on iPod touch which can give you a days till the item is due countdown which is helpful in prioritizing.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree on the relationships-issue. Even as an introvert, time with my family and closest friends is a major way to renew myself and recharge.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jaymie.dieterle Jaymie Brooks Dieterle

    I routinely find myself overcommitted and I am very clear on who to blame – me!

    In generaly my problems are saying yes to things I can do, even though they might not be the things I should do, and planning larger projects than can reasonably be done in the course of every day life.

    I am working on a personal mission statement/vision in hopes of helping with the first part – knowing what "good things I am not called to" as a friend once said. With the second, I just have to remind myself that in some cases it is okay to "settle" for something smaller or simpler than what I might have originally planned. It doesn't make my first idea "bad" – just not feasible. As another of my friends reminds me, "It's better than perfect – it's done."

  • http://patalexander.com Pat Alexander

    Mike, as an independent consultant I struggle with this all the time. Especially the will I have enough work thing. The 1st 2 yrs on my own I almost killed myself. In the past 2 yrs I have done much more to control that beast of a calendar. I’m not always great at it, but I am getting better. I think it is so very important to analyze which projects energize you and are the most interesting. Yes, I have learned to say no and to refer prospects to other consultants if my calendar is already full. It is tough to say no when it sounds interesting or it is a challenge you want to take on. Thanks for sharing your ideas on this as well. Always good stuff.

  • http://peterhornonline.wordpress.com Peter Horn

    Timing is everything. And the timing of this post was perfect for me. As you’ve done 100 times, you’ve put into words what I’m experiencing and provided the practical steps to move forward. Thanks for investing the time to invest in me…and the rest of your Tribe.

  • http://www.chrisshaughness.com Chris Shaughness

    The "to do list" is always never-ending to high achievers and without prioritization and balance, it's easy to over-commit. I'm finding with marketing my book, I could spent hours and hours every day with setting up signings, social media, emailing, etc. But, as you said so well, the law of diminishing returns kicks in when I'm too tired. Planning and inserting me time, family time, and God time into my calendar is crucial. I've actually noticed that good things seem to come my way when I follow this rule rather than when I'm burned out. I'm very grateful for your honest insights in this blog. We're all human, dealing with much the same issues.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lynette.sowell Lynette Sowell

    I am not a CEO like you, but I am CEO of my schedule. I work full-time in medical transcription/editing, have two contracted book deadlines, am a stringer reporter for my local newspaper, and pitch in with my husband's gourmet cookie business. Yes, I have done this to myself.

    My first impulse was like the guy in your picture–RUN! With a brimming schedule of my 8-hour traditional work day, a photo shoot for the paper this afternoon, the ever-looming book deadlines, two dozen decorated cookies for Baylor homecoming on Saturday, I first took a deep breath when I started panicking on Monday, realizing I'd overbooked my schedule. I think the mental challenge of having so much happening at once is the worst part. So I'm playing the mental game with myself of doing one thing at a time until my list gets knocked out. By Sunday evening, my photos will be shot, the cookies baked and delivered, and my work hours completed, I'll only have the deadlines left. I console myself–this will all play itself out, and I just need to hang on for the ride, reminding myself I won't do this again. I'll keep my calendar in hand when agreeing to future commitments and think about the time I'll have to spend on each task before agreeing to everything at once.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you for taking responsibility. It sounds like we are approaching it the same way. I think the mental challenge is the toughest part.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    What a great post! This is something that everyone struggles with… when I find my self overcommited, I have to remove myself from the "un-important" tasks. It is crucial to prioritize your tasks and commit yourself fully to a few tasks than to give few time to a lot of tasks… I was actually about to post a blog about this! I already wrote it-just haven't put it on yet…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Ha! Sorry to beat you to the punch.

      • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

        It's ok… I loved what you said in your post because it took on a different approach than what I wrote about.

        Here's the link to mine: http://bigb94.webs.com/apps/blog/

  • PaulSteinbrueck

    I think #1 is by far the biggest challenge for most people. A lot of people are overcommitment because they feel they HAVE TO do the things they're doing. There are expectations – spoken or unspoken – from their boss, spouse, kids, parents, church, family, etc – and they either never think to question them or are afraid to confront them.

    If we operate under the (false) assumption that we HAVE TO do everything on our schedule, then it's impossible to move beyond #1 to the other 6 strategies.

  • http://www.omarhamada.com Omar Hamada

    Great post Michael. I'm there with you. This has been a crazy two months with a ton of airplane time.

    A few months ago, I let everything go that didn't answer at least one of two questions affirmatively – "Am I lending great value to this endeavor", or "Is this endeavor of great value to me"? SInce then I've let go of a couple of boards, a board chairmanship, two weekly men's groups, and a weekly bible study that I was teaching. All were good, but not great. None mandated that I be involved as I could be replaced and was involved with most out of responsibility – but the value i n both directions was limited.

    But even though I freed a lot of time up for me an my family, it seems that much of it has already been eaten up. I am discovering that intentionality and scheduling are key.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love those two questions. Excellent.

  • http://www.jamie.chavez.com Jamie

    This is excellent advice for the self-employed (like me) also . I struggle with it regularly. (Um, too often.) I recently decided to quit beating myself up about my scheduling failures when I not only have to do the work itself, I have to seek the work, maintain business connections, and handle all the back-office functions; I have to take care of the office (my home), including what it looks like on the outside and inside; I have to take care of the staff (me!), both physically — including preventative health care, exercise, sleep, healthy meals — and mentally, which includes leisure time and friendship maintenance … No wonder I'm always a little behind! Thanks for this encouragement.

  • http://www.discoveringtogether.com Eyvonne

    One important truth I learned through a very difficult season professionally is this:
    Often, the best you can do to help your situation is get a good night's sleep.

    Staying awake in bed and fretting doesn't solve the problem and depletes your ability to solve it tomorrow. I've learned to get a grip on my emotions, and just go to sleep.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Of all the things I said, that is the most important. A little sleep can REALLY change your perspective!

  • http://www.LaurindaOnLeadership.com Laurinda

    There's nothing like a good hard CRY! It takes great effort not to over commit myself, but it's worth it. I'm feeling stretched at work right now. I'm working extra hours to stay caught up, but I am taking my vacation next week. The break will give me better perspective.

  • http://www.StephanieLJones.com Stephanie L. Jones

    Michael, I enjoy your blog! Thank you!

    I thought you would enjoy this week's post by Darren Hardy of SUCCESS magazine. It's about Sir Richard Branson saying no to requests.

    Success is Not About What You DO…
    When it comes to comparing superachievers and everyone else, it has less to do with what they do and more to do with what they don’t do.

    Saying “yes” is easy; saying “no” is much harder, but it is the master skill of success.

    In a world where we are constantly being tugged on from a thousand different directions, your ability to be productive and ultimately achieve your big hairy audacious goals has more to do with all the things you DON’T do versus the things you do.

    Put it this way: For everything you say “yes” to you are saying “no” to something else… and you only have so much time. For most people, the ability to do MORE is impossible; you are already overwhelmed and working yourself to exhaustion 24/7.

    Cont…. http://darrenhardy.success.com/2010/10/not-about-

    • http://www.omarhamada.com Omar Hamada

      My wife always tells me that every time I say "Yes" to something, I am saying "No" to her. Keeps things in perspective.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is excellent. I wish I’d seen this before I posted; I would have included some of it. Thanks for pointing me to it.

  • http://thatguykc.wordpress.com ThatGuyKC

    Did you sneak a peek at my calendar lately? :)
    Thank you for the open and personal perspective on feeling overwhelmed.

    While I think all your points are spot on, 2 & 6 are where I need the most improvement. I am naturally a people-pleaser and have gotten myself backed into a corner more than once because of a desire not to disappoint someone.

    Regarding rest, there is no way I get enough sleep. Between work, family, exercise and MBA homework I'm averaging 4-5 hrs of sleep during week nights. I know this isn't healthy, but it'd difficult to stick to a stringent schedule with zero flexibility.

    However, I need to accept responsibility (#1) and make the conscious decision to change (#7).

    Thanks again for the sound advice.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have to have seven hours a night. It is my biggest priority. If I don’t do that, I am no good to anyone else.

  • MRaithel

    I'll offer an excuse/modification for point 6 – with two children under the age of 5, I'm unlikely to rise before they do. So most nights the hours of 10PM – MIDNIGHT and MIDNIGHT – 2AM are the sweet spots for me and where I can get in the zone. Plus, the end of the evening poses some urgency for me, where as a 5AM or 6AM wake up call would pose the illusion of having "enough" time to take it slow in the morning.

  • juliebmack

    I almost always feel over-committed! I think setting priorities helps, having a calender is huge to help stay organized and see the gaps in my schedule if something comes up. One of the things I started doing recently is actually physically writing a "to-do" list. This helps a lot. When I SEE the things I have to do and then start checking them off, it makes me feel accomplished.

  • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com Bradley J. Moore

    Yes on feeling overcommitted. The one thing I have started doing is carve out time in the morning for 20 minutes of silent meditation. After doing this a few days, I am able to bring the calm with me throughout the day, or access it much quicker. I was really frazzled there for a while.

    Your one point about concentrating on the next thing is very practical, keeps you focused and on task. And the truth is, things always work out in the end. We get through.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    No, but I have spent a lot of time in therapy. Does that count? ;-)

  • http://www.sixthman.net Mike

    Love the point you make about getting rest! I have also found that getting a good night sleep, then waking up earlier, is way more productive! Great post.

  • http://www.twitter.com/erinkcasey Erin Casey

    I needed that reminder! I've started trimming back in the most obvious places. Now it's time to dig a little deeper.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The concept of “triage” is helpful to me. What can I cut out without really affecting anyone or anything?

  • David Scott

    Michael, I'd love to hear your perspective on how you balanced commitments when you had young children. I have 4 boys from 9-15, all of whom want to play different sports, have different outside interests, etc. In the past I've said – "pick one thing", but if each kid picks one activity, it puts my wife on the road virtually every night of the week.

    Do you manage this from the perspective of, "it's a season" (albeit a very LONG season). What would you recommend to young-er families?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It was difficult, but I think it is even more difficult for today’s parents, because expectations have risen. I would be brutal about saying “no.” Try to bunch activities if you can. And, also, keep reminding yourself it’s “just a season.”

  • http://twitter.com/suebrage @suebrage

    Michael, thanks for this timely post. I needed this fresh perspective! We are also going through an intense busy time. It helps to remember that during an intense time EVERYTHING is intensified. Fear, stress, emotion, even imagination. As my husband always advises, just slow things down when you can and remember it's not out of control, it just feels that way. Thanks for your wisdom and insight…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely. As my wife says, “This, too, will pass.” Usually, if we just keep plodding along, everything works out. It’s when we freak out and run off the field, so to speak, that we “borrow trouble.”

  • http://davidbmclaughlin.com davidbmd

    Maybe to free up some time you could have saved this info for a later blog post. I appreciate the tips (all excellent) but in a post about how busy you are for the next two weeks i found it odd that you took the time to write about it. And then comment.

    I know blogging doesn't take a lot of time, but it does take some time. Hours are made of minutes. How we spend minutes turns into hours.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Believe it or not, writing, more than anything else, gives me perspective. Also, doing one thing for too long, is not healthy nor productive. For example, I am writing this comment while eating lunch. It’s a welcome break. Also, I write best when the experience is the freshest.

  • http://adaptationsoflife.com Jack Heimbigner

    Great post, its funny how this is something everyone can fall into from time to time. I know for my last job I did this all the time. I would commit to a bunch of stuff at work, and then I would do the same out of work and all of a sudden I hit that wall. And these are similar steps that I had taken.

    Anyway, I hope you can grab some of that margin time soon! Have a great day!

  • http://thegrubhub.wordpress.com Kendra

    I’m so there right now… Currently deciding which plates I need to keep spinning… Nice to know I’m not alone… Not that I thought I was :).

  • http://twitter.com/DanielHarkavy @DanielHarkavy

    Hey Mike, you and I are on the same track right now. The fourth quarter is usually the busiest for us coaches as well. Your tips are great Mike. One thing I would add is to learn from these seasons so we can be best prepared for them in the future. So on the frontside, really think it through. Show your calendar and the requests to your assistant, team and spouse for input. Then listen to them! If it is a green light, take the non-essentials off your calendar for the busy season. Prepare your family and team for the fact that you will most likely be more stressed and taxed than usual. Ask them to help you by letting you know if you are seeming to have a shorter fuse or more angst than normal. That little "hey honey or buddy, you okay? That can help you from having an EQ meltdown.I know for us, one of the things we want to make sure of is that we don't let our over committing or busy season hurt us relationaly with those closest to us. Great post Mike! So is now a good time to talk about you joining us at next years Experience again? :-)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Ha! Thanks for your comments, Daniel. You guys are the best executive coaches on the planet, so I really appreciate your affirmation and insight.

  • http://mayfairya.blogspot.com Derek

    Thanks so much for sharing. My wife would definitely say I over-commit in a number of areas. I'm a people pleaser, as it seems you are as well, so it's hard for me to say no. I have had to learn that if I say no to someone asking me to do something, they will probably find someone else. The world will move on. That is extremely difficult for me to grasp in the moment of the ask. I think, "Who else will they get to do it? I have to do." I'm sure that's some distorted thinking going on, nonetheless, that's my process. I've been trying to learn to say "no" more graciously.

  • http://www.mohan37.com dr.mo

    Awesome article. Great perspective. I am totally the kind of person who gets themselves into this situation. One thing would add is the ever-popular "learn to say no." I've found that quality always counts over quality in life, especialy ministry.

  • Mark

    There's a bit of a contradiction worth exploring here.

    If one does, in fact, take responsibility for over-scheduling, the ability to delegate raises a question. Is it fair to make someone else (the person to whom one's over-scheduled commitment has been assigned) bear the burden of one's own bad choices?

    It's likely that the person to whom such an assignment has been delegated will have no choice in saying yes or no to the request because tasks are delegated down a chain of command. "My boss over-scheduled again. Now my work load has increased but what choice do I have?" And if, as you've indicated, choice is key, it appears to be possible only for a person has the luxury of being able to hand down work with the expectation that someone else must now get it done.

    When delegating tasks is used as an escape for one's own over-scheduling, that can hardly be described as taking responsibility. Rather, it looks more like a husband making a mess of something around the house and then saying to his wife, "I'm too busy, you'll have to clean it up for me."

    Delegation is essential. But better to do it beforehand, not after. And never make it a habit which provides an escape for over-scheduling and over-committing which then takes the key matter of choice out of the hands of employees.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, that’s a good point. However, there are times when other people have excess capacity when we don’t. That’s the great thing about a team. However, having said that, I would never want to make my problem someone else’s problem or put them in a difficult position.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Good. I hope it went well. ;-)

  • http://matthewbenson.wordpress.com/ matthewdbenson

    A timely post !!

  • Chelsea

    Great post! There is a very insightful book that address this subject called "The Rest of God." It's completely changed the way I work and rest.

    • http://www.rowentree.com April Rowen

      Hi Chelsea,

      I looked up ''The Rest of God" on Amazon and it looks like a great read. (It comes in a kindle version too – whee!) Thanks for the recommendation.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I want to check out this book. Thanks for recommending.

  • http://www.rowentree.com April Rowen

    Great post! Over-commitment… *sigh*. I also wonder if being an introvert adds to the feelings of over-commitment. I can't help but notice the heightened energy of extroverted friends compared with my own dwindling energy when equally busy.

    It feels like a permanent tug-of-war: I'm always tugging to find alone time but something (my own obligations, commitments, duties and extroverted friends) is always pulling to keep me busy. Sometimes I wish I had some of that extroverted energy! =)

  • Dalene

    Yes! I'm definitely feeling over-committed right now. It's the busiest season at my office & because of a couple colleagues being pulled to work on a special project, each of us have extra work to complete. I volunteered for additional work & an additional committee before I knew how this special project would impact my office, so I'm feeling like the rug was pulled out from under me some days.

    To deal with it, I make changes in how I go about my day. Prioritizing is key. I can't read all the blogs I want or stay on top of related news as I would like. I have a research project that I would *like* to work upon, but it's left in draft stages until later. Today's schedule of appointments is always first.

    Being an introvert & needing time for myself, I haven't been gathering with friends as much. I have my husband & 2 very young kids keeping me busy, & I see my parents & some siblings almost daily.

    I'm looking forward to December when work will slow down a bit again. As you said, it's just a season that will pass. I'll be wondering where the time went!

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Margin… seems like there is less and less of it but like you said, it's up to us to live intentionally and create it versus always responding to a lack of it. Easier said than done but certainly something to strive for. Unhealthy to live without it.

  • http://www.brianhinkley.com Brian Hinkley

    Sleep is my problem. I usually feel like I am in a fog by Wednesday. Not getting enough sleep seems to flow over into and affects me in the other six strategies.

  • johnsaddington

    testing non-intensedebate styling comment….. 123…

    • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker


      • johnsaddington

        testing. again.

  • Luke

    After reading your great post, I realized I have worked all but 3 of the past 45 days. I can only blame myself. Today was my least productive day of them all. I also enjoyed your link to a previous post about How to Boost your Energy. Thank you for all your time in putting together this great blog. How do you delegate when there are only three staff in the organization? I guess I fear being let go if the work doesn’t get done.

    Thanks again,

  • http://larryhehn.com Larry Hehn

    My wife and I reached the peak of over-commitment a few years ago. At one point we came to our senses and realized that we had been active every day of the week for months. It was ruining our relationships and wrecking our physical, mental and spiritual health. Though we originally found it hard to say no to the many noble and worthy causes we had taken on, we knew that we had to cut things down dramatically. I’ll always remember our first “day off” after that frenzy of activity…just sitting on the couch and doing nothing. What a relief!

    Since then we have learned to protect our schedules and allow for margin, but it isn’t always easy. I’m thankful for the hard-learned lessons of the past, and timely reminders like this post that keep them fresh in our mind. Thanks, Michael!

  • Andrea Aresca

    Just now I am reading a (quite old) book called “The Overload Syndrome” (by Richard Swenson, MD). The main idea is that we all have LIMITS and, to avoid overload, we always must keep a MARGIN. Simple idea, but so easy to forget, isn’t it?
    From my experience, I see that the key is managing carefully to my CALENDAR:
    1. I try to make sure that every date-related engagement is on it.
    2. I also “bloc” (e.g. with an all-day appointment) up to 7 days before an engament that requires me preparation and also the day after to recover.
    3. I weekly print an unpadte of my calendar and give it to my wife, so she can check I am not overcommitted.

  • http://twitter.com/NowInANutshell @NowInANutshell

    Thanks for the nudge! You probably got tons of readers who are also busy people. I am adopting your strategy to handle my own growing list of responsibilities. Thanks a lot, especially for items 7 & 1.

  • http://www.validleadership.com James Castellano

    Take another look at the priorities of each task and distribute what can be delegated. Then I buckle down and get it done. Once there is daylight, I recommit to taking on what is important and remember how to say no.

    I find myself in this spot often because I do not like to have to much idle time.

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  • http://www.lamourtrainingsystems.com Jimmy Lamour

    One of the hardest things and best things I have learned is to say know. When I over commit I take my frustration out on my family sometimes and it is not fair to them. I agree meditation on the word and making the main thing the main thing is what it is all about. Great post!

  • http://www.lamourtrainingsystems.com Jimmy Lamour

    One of the hardest things and best things I have learned is to say no. When I over commit I take my frustration out on my family sometimes and it is not fair to them. I agree meditation on the word and making the main thing the main thing is what it is all about. Great post!

  • http://www.kathyfannon.com Kathy Fannon

    Michael, when you’re under that kind of stress be sure you’re also eating extra healthy. Stress does goofy things to our bodies and you will get sick quickly if you don’t have proper nutrition to fight off ‘invaders’. (And this is the time of year for sickness, so be extra diligent.)

    Just my 2 cents…from a health coach perspective. :)

  • http://www.samdavidson.net Sam Davidson

    Been there. Am there.

    The key – I think – is to maintain some form of balance. That may be in aggregate (this month is packed; next month is low), or it may mean that each day you find that one thing that grounds and centers you.

    Being busy drains your energy, so you need something(s) that give you energy. Finding those will help anyone stay busy, well.

  • http://daveanthold.com Dave Anthold

    Much like you, I have an extremely demanding travel schedule over the next five weeks. One of the things I made sure I included was being home for the weekends. I have a bible study that meets on Friday nights & it was important for me that I always be home for that so that I can be in fellowship with my fellow believers.

    Without the fellowship, I am toast – the other stuff is secondary to making sure I have the fellowship.

  • http://bobdemoss.wordpress.com/ Bob DeMoss

    Hey Mike,

    I remember a brief, life-changing conversation on this topic I had with my father a number of years ago. It went like this:

    DAD: “Son, you’re far too busy. You need to slow down. If you don’t, you’re going to burn out.”

    ME: “But, Dad, there are too many important, worthwhile things to do. Besides, I’d rather BURN OUT than RUST OUT.”

    DAD: “Son–in either case you’re out.”


  • http://fghart.wordpress.com FGHart

    And here I’ve been thinking you’ve “got it together” … meaning, I guess, that you never find yourself swimming (or drowning) in the sea of overcommitment overload. Thank you for sharing this frank assessment of an all-too common scene and for offering some guidelines to your fellow swimmers.

    “Don’t fight the undertow or you’ll drown, exhausted. Acknowledge the situation and gradually ease out of it.” I needed this reminder today as I’m at the START of it: just now realizing I’m committing myself to more than I can handle over the next few months. Time to take a deep breath and accept/confront/prioritize, etc. I’m praying for God’s guidance as I prioritize.

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    Ahhh…yes. I know exactly what you mean, but your schedule makes my schedule look like a vacation in the Bahamas. At least, that’s what I am imagining. It’s still overwhelming. I try to balance my time between work, work, rest, and time with family. Sometimes, I’m successful.

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    I’ve recognized that I need to get more rest and commit myself to my top level projects and be willing to outsource the rest. There’s just not enough hours in the day to do it all myself. If I continue to put in late hours time and time again, it affects my health and my ability to do good work. Anyway, sufficient rest is an item that I need to work on so that I’m more efficient/productive in my day-to-day.

  • Brad

    These are excellent practices to follow even when you don’t feel that you have yourself over-committed.

  • http://misternifty.com Brian Fegter

    Thanks for sharing Mike!

  • http://www.innovationpath.net Willie

    The right post at the right time! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • http://www.embracepositivepassion.com Georgiana

    At times in life there just seems like there’s way too many fabulous opportunities to get involved in and make a meaningful contribution. As the old saying goes — “when it rains, it pours!” I’ve learned that I need to incorporate “me” time in my agenda in order to clear my mind, relax and rejuvenate — whether it’s quiet time alone, taking a walk and getting fresh air, reading a book…etc. If I can’t give 100% of myself then I being a disservice instead giving service to others. :-)

  • http://www.embracepositivepassion.com Georgiana

    At times in life there just seems like there’s way too many fabulous opportunities to get involved in and make a meaningful contribution. As the old saying goes — “when it rains, it pours!” I’ve learned that I need to incorporate “me” time in my agenda in order to clear my mind, relax and rejuvenate — whether it’s quiet time alone, taking a walk and getting fresh air, reading a book…etc. If I can’t give 100% of myself then I being a disservice instead giving service to others. :-)

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