Avoiding The Overcommitment Trap

It’s easy to overcommit, and it saps valuable time and energy away from what matters most. Many people are hardwired to be accommodating and to want to help out where they can. Saying “no” takes a lot of effort. But learning when to pass on a request can help you accomplish the things that are truly important to you. Here’s how to know when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”

Stay True To Your Priorities
Knowing what you want to accomplish is key to knowing when to say “no.” If you haven’t already, take some time to think through what’s most important to you, what you value the most. What goals are you moving towards that best align with those values? These become your priorities. If an opportunity comes up that matches up with what you value, take it. If you already know what your priorities are, you’ll feel more comfortable turning a request down because it just doesn’t match up with where you’re headed.

Schedule Ahead Of Time
At the end of each week, take 30 minutes and make a rough schedule of the next week. Identify what needs to be done that week and schedule each day out to make that happen. Leave a bit of room in your schedule, but be sure to include your priorities. Then, at the conclusion of each day, create a more detailed schedule for the next day, reviewing what you’ve accomplished during the current day’s work and scheduling out what needs to happen during the next. Knowing what’s happening when gives you a better overview of your time. If you know where your time is already committed, you can make better decisions about how to spend your unscheduled time, if you’re asked to participate in something new or take on an additional role.

Beware Of The Immediate “Yes”
For most people, our default answer to any request usually tends towards the affirmative. “Yes” is more comfortable than “Let me see.” But don’t give in to the reaction of an immediate yes. Get into the habit of telling people you’ll consider what they’re asking and get back to them tomorrow. This gives you unpressured time consider if what’s being asked of you aligns with your priorities or not.

Realize There’s Nothing Wrong with Saying “No”
The answer can’t always be “yes.” But that’s okay. No one can do it all and still have time for what really matters. Often we feel bad for turning someone down, especially if it’s a worthy cause. But there’s no shame in guarding your time and using it to accomplish what really matters to you. You only have a certain amount of hours in the day and energy in your body to accomplish your tasks. Make sure it’s being channeled in the right direction.

By avoiding overcommitting yourself, you’re reaffirming that the priorities you’ve set for yourself really matter. Diluting your efforts by doing too much can slow down your progress towards reaching your goals. Saying “no” is awkward at first, but over time, it can be a valuable safeguard over your most limited of resources, time.

Published on August 27th, 2015 in Blog

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