This is 5-part series on Life Organization. To read all the posts in this series, click here.
The last few weeks have been total chaos for me.
I spent a lot of time traveling, had several speaking engagements, and attended more meetings than I care to count. I wish I could say my hectic schedule was normal, or even necessary, but it wasn’t. Looking back I realize that the chaos that had overtaken my life was all self-inflicted.
Honestly, I don’t know how I survived the last few weeks. I wore busy-ness like a badge of honor and in the end I was mentally, physically, and emotionally drained. I had no one to blame but myself for allowing my calendar to get so cluttered I couldn’t function.
How did this all happen?
I ‘m not sure exactly how my schedule became so full.
I guess I thought that the empty white space in my planner was an indicator that I was “open” to accept invitations and opportunities. Just because there was space on a page didn’t mean I actually had the margin in my life to handle it all. Yet, I just kept writing things down.
Before I knew it, I was on overload.
When everything finally came to a screeching halt, I couldn’t do anything. My brain refused to think and my body craved sleep and rest. It was my wake-up call that I had done too much. And it was a lesson I needed to learn for the days ahead.
We do that to ourselves, don’t we? We try to please others, refuse to say no even when we really want to, and believe we can juggle it all. But the truth is we can’t.
That’s where giving ourselves permission comes in.
Giving Ourselves Permission to Limit Our Activities
Although it may seem like we have to accept every invitation or agree to attend every meeting, in reality, we don’t. The world won’t fall apart if we decline to participate; it will keep spinning. However, when we limit our activities, we find that we won’t be spinning like crazy.
So how do we do give ourselves this permission?
I think it starts with understanding ourselves and setting limits we aren’t willing to compromise:
- How much activity can we handle before downtime is required?
- What is truly important to us and what can we let go of?
- How busy do we want to be?
Once we know the answers to these questions then it’s easier for us to limit ourselves and our activities.
Tips for Limiting Your Activities
While it may seem easy enough to say, implementing limits on our activities can be much more difficult to do. Here are a few tips to keep you from activity overload:
- Predetermine the number of activities you are willing to participate in each week. Once you’ve reached your limit, then you shouldn’t add any more. By doing so, you’ll learn to prioritize your activities and make sure you’re only adding the most important ones to your calendar.
- Hold yourself accountable. Whether it’s a spouse or a friend, it’s important to have someone alongside you to help you limit yourself. They can tell when you are becoming “too busy” and can gently remind you to take it easy. When you journey alone, you tend to keep pushing yourself, much to your demise.
- Stay balanced. If you find that you have several activities assigned to one day, make every effort to have a lighter load the next. This way you won’t be so overwhelmed and can give your mind and body the rest it needs to keep going.
- Ask yourself why. Why am I doing this activity? Why do I want to do this activity? Determining your true motives can help you decide whether or not you should be doing an activity at all.
- Realize you’re not the only one. So often we take on activities because we think no one else can do the job. Believe it or not, there are other capable (sometimes more capable!) people out there that can do things if you don’t. Free yourself from burden and allow others to shine by sharing the load.
- Don’t agree or commit to an activity right away. While it might be tempting to immediately say “yes” to an activity that is presented to you, learn to give yourself some time before agreeing or committing to anything. This way you have time to check your calendar and make sure you aren’t overbooking yourself, as well as determining your motives and your energy level for participating.
- Pencil in your most important activities first. While most of the important things in life don’t need to be scheduled, when we don’t place them on our calendars they easily get pushed aside by the unimportant things in life. To help you keep first things first, write down the most important activities in your planner so you can schedule everything else around them. This will help guarantee that you aren’t letting the important things in life slide by the wayside.
Download your permission slip to limit your activities here!
Looking back now, I know that overloading myself with so much activity wasn’t good for me. Since then I’ve had a week to breathe, think, and rest and I can tell you I never want to be so busy again! If I’m honest with myself I didn’t need to be that busy. I did this to myself.
However, the experience has opened my eyes and helped me understand the importance of limiting my activities. From this point forward, I’m giving myself permission to limit my activities. How about you?
Do you find it difficult to limit your activities? Why or why not?
How can giving yourself permission to limit your activities make a difference in your life?
Leave a comment and let me know!