Giving Yourself Permission to Limit Your Activities

Giving Yourself Permission to Limit Your Activities

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!





Giving Yourself Permission to Ask for Help

Permission to Ask for help

*This post is part of a 5-part life organization series about Giving Yourself Permission.  To see all the posts in this series, click here.

Ask for help?  No, I don’t do that.  

Why not?

Because it’s a sign of weakness.  

Plus, I’m perfectly capable of handling everything myself.  I don’t need anyone’s help for anything.  

Those are the lies I told myself and the belief system I worked from, day in and day out for as long as I can remember.

I thought I was being strong, independent and capable.  I was wrong.

My foundations about asking for help

I don’t know how I developed this false belief that asking for help was wrong.  Maybe my parents ingrained it into me, or perhaps a childhood experience caused me to think that I shouldn’t ask.  Whatever the reason, I’ve never been one to ask anyone for help.

But honestly, living like that is exhausting.  It meant that I had to do everything on my own and that I had to have all the answers.  The reality is I’m a physically limited human being who doesn’t know it all.

It took awhile for me to internalize this truth, yet I finally did when I was out of strength and choices.  But I didn’t go easily.

The wrong way to ask for help

Once I recognized my shortcoming, I started to be more open about asking for help from others.  However, I didn’t go about it properly:

  • I would ask, but apologize for being bothersome.
  • I would ask, but feel guilty for taking up other people’s precious time.
  • I would ask, but beat myself up for not being able to do it myself.
  • I would ask, but rather than let others truly help me, I continued to do as much as I could myself
  • I would ask, but feel indebted to that person rather than accepting their gift of help

While I thought I was making progress, I wasn’t really.  I was “pretending” to ask for help so I would look better in front of people, to let them believe I was humble enough to understand my weaknesses and not try and operate in them.

But then something happens that causes you to have a true need that only someone else can fill. One that you are helpless to do anything about.  That’s when you realize you have to let go and give yourself permission to ask for help.

Giving yourself permission to ask for help

Although it’s not always easy, there are times in our lives when we simply have to ask for help.

Because the truth is:

  • we can’t do it all
  • we don’t know it all
  • we are wise when we allow others to use their gifts and talents to help us
  • we weren’t created to live life in isolation, apart from the help of others

These truths are what sets us free – free to cease striving, free to seek out the generosity of others, free to live the way we were meant to.  And when we truly operate from these truths and give ourselves permission to ask for help we find that:

  • others want to help us
  • we can accomplish more when we accept others’ help than we can alone
  • we aren’t weak but wise because we know our limits and honor them
  • we can bless others by allowing them to use their strengths to help us
  • being open to asking for help encourages others to do the same

It’s been a long, hard journey for me but I’m finally over the hump.  I have given myself the freedom and the permission to ask others for help.  In return, I have learned the beauty of receiving help and the difference it has made in my life.Ask for help

**Download your Permission Slip to Ask for Help here

It can make a difference in your life too.  If you’re willing to give yourself permission.

Are you willing to ask others for help? Why or why not?

What changes do you need to make to give yourself permission to ask for help?










Giving Yourself Permission to Say No

Giving Yourself Permission to Say No

*This post is part of a 5-part life organization series about Giving Yourself Permission.  To see all the posts in this series, click here.

As a people pleaser, I have a hard time saying NO.  Whether it’s a request for help or an invitation to fun, my mouth is usually saying “Yes” while my brain is screaming, “No!”   I never want to upset or disappoint anyone, so I rarely decline anything.

Honestly, that’s no way to live.

By saying “Yes” to everyone’s requests, I was saying “No” to the hopes and dreams I had for myself.  In doing so I never found the joy and happiness I longed for.  I knew that if I ever hoped of reaching my goals in life I had to learn to say NO.

No means no, right?

While it may sound simple to just say NO, for me it wasn’t that easy.

When others asked me to do something, I would catch myself agreeing, but then realized what I was doing and say NO. Rather than leaving it there though, guilt caused me to make excuses why I couldn’t commit. Ultimately,  I offered to help in other ways.

Not much progress.

I had to learn that I was free to say NO without any guilt, any excuses, or any reasons.  Period.

If I wanted to have full control over myself, my life and my dreams, I was going to have to take it a step further.  I was going to have give myself permission to say NO.

Giving Myself Permission

Unlike the permission slips I handed out to my elementary students, allowing them to go or do as they pleased, there was no one who was going to give me permission to say NO.  I had to do that for myself.

But first I had to understand a few basic truths:

  • When I say yes to something, I am saying no to something else.
  • NO is a complete sentence.  It does not need additional words or explanations.
  • Either I control NO, or it controls me.
  • NO is a boundary and a limit that is meant to help me, not hurt me.
  • When I say NO, I’m making a choice for myself and for what really matters to me.
  • If the person I’m saying NO to truly cares for me, they will respect my NO, even if it inconveniences them.
  • Saying NO doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.
  • Saying NO is good for me mentally, emotionally, and physically.

With these truths rooted in my mind and heart, I was free to say NO and be okay with myself and my decisions.

Free to Say NO

While it’s been a struggle, I am getting better.   Of course, I don’t say NO to everything, but I have learned that there are certain things that I am free to say NO to:

  • Stuff that distracts me and wastes my time (email, social media, TV)
  • Stuff that stresses me out and gives me anxiety (shopping with kids, shopping at busy times)
  • Stuff that drains my energy (negativity, activities that aren’t in my sweet spot)
  • Stuff I feel obligated to that I shouldn’t be (parties, holiday expectations)
  • Stuff that I don’t actually need to do (like handmaking Halloween costumes)
  • Stuff I can’t control or isn’t my responsibility

Having the freedom to say NO to these things has taken such a load off of me.  I no longer feel bound or obligated to things, which in turn has brought much more happiness and joy to my life!  Who wouldn’t want that?

Giving Yourself Permission

If you are like me and you struggle saying NO,  can I ask you to consider giving yourself permission to say NO? I know it’s not easy, but it is possible.  And with that freedom comes a new outlook and perspective on life!

Here are a few things you can do to help you get started:

  • Be aware of your tendencies to always say “Yes” and determine what is motivating you to do that.
  • Read through the truths about NO and see which ones you have yet to internalize.  Choose one to focus on for the next month and work towards building an understanding of that truth.  Continue focusing on these truths over time.
  • Make a list of the things you want to give yourself permission to say NO to (feel free to use my list as a starting point!) and then work towards being more inclined to decline! No guilt, no excuses, no reasons.
  • Print out this permission slip as a reminder for yourself that you are free to say NO. Post it where you can see it and be encouraged by it.

  • Evaluate yourself at the end of 3 months and see how you are doing.  It may not be easy, but some progress is better than no progress!

At some point in our lives, we have to put our foot down and be willing to say NO.  Not because we want to hurt others or let them down, but because we know it’s the right thing to do for ourselves.  The first step in having that type of freedom in our lives starts with giving ourselves permission.

Are you willing to give yourself permission to say NO?

Do you struggle with saying NO?  Why?

How could giving yourself permission to say NO make a difference in your life?

Leave a comment and let me know!





Giving Yourself Permission Series

Giving Yourself Permission Series

Too often, you and I don’t give ourselves permission. We feel obligated to do anything and everything, and in the process, we wear ourselves out. Most of the time, that’s to our detriment.

With that realization came the idea to write a special series about giving ourselves permission:

You may be asking….what does any of this have to do with getting organized? Well, organizing isn’t just about the physical organization of your stuff and your spaces. It’s also about ordering your whole life so that you can pursue the hopes and dreams you might have.

And that’s what I want to focus on with this series – life organization – and helping you find the balance in it. I honestly believe that can be achieved by giving yourself permission in these areas.