Do you struggle to try to get everything done but feel you fall short at the end of the day? I can relate as I used to stay up late and get up early in an attempt to get everything done.
I also regularly tried to pack in some self-care like taking a relaxing bath or meeting friends for coffee or a walk.
The problem was I would pack too much into a typical day. I keep adding things to my schedule and found myself rushing from activity to activity and ended up compromising my health. I wanted to do it all but my energy would either peter out before the day did or I unrealistically would pack so much into a day that there was no way I could get it all done.
That was when my 'to do' lists were long and my frame of mind was in a totally different place. Today, I make my 'to do' lists on a piece of paper the size of a post it note and don't put as much pressure on myself.
What changed, you may ask? Well aside from the simple facts that my life was leaving me feeling drained and my health was starting suffer, I finally took a breather and stepped back from the busyness of my life long enough to ask myself, “Why I am I doing all this?”
The people in my life were taking a back to all the stuff I was trying to do and fit into my already full life.
As a small business entrepreneur, I was juggling multiple clients, taking classes and was doing a variety of different things in order to help others and chase the almighty dollar. Unfortunately it came at great personal expense. While I am passionate about my professional organizing career and coaching others, it can also take too many hours away from other things that are important to me, like my family and friends.
In short, I was too busy for my own good, and the good of my loved ones.
I was aiming to be all I could for everyone in my life. The reality was I wasn't super woman and I wasn't perfect but I sure was acting like I was. I became a great juggler of many things at once and a pro at packing lots of stuff in a day with little space between.
For some reason, I operated under the belief my ‘to do’ list was temporary and one day my inbox would be empty and my life would be calm, relaxed, and happy.
Boy was I wrong!
The reality was that as soon as I checked the items off my 'to do' list there were more to replace them. The list of things I had to do in a day felt endless, not to mention, overwhelming.
The inbox of my life was always full of stuff left to accomplish. The reality is I will never get everything done, nor will you.
A light bulb moment came around the time I read something Richard Carlson, PhD and author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff book series, wrote about the importance of reminding yourself that when you die, your inbox won't be empty.
His words sure hit home! He made a good point. An inbox is meant to have ‘to do’ tasks in it and by its very nature is not supposed to be empty.
If we live our lives based on the stuff that automatically gets put in our inbox (if we don't say no) no wonder so many people find themselves overwhelmed. It’s the best recipe for exhaustion, I’ve ever come across.
Why is it that we feel we have to do so much?
We often find ourselves uber busy and doing stuff that in reality isn’t important. Unfortunately far too many of us are caught up in the cycle of trying to be everything to everyone. We wear all our accomplishments like a badge. Being crazy busy, as exhausting as it is, is just what we do, it's what society seems to expect. If you slack off you're an underachiever. And, slowing down and not keeping pace with of everyone else is unthinkable.
It was only when I acknowledged that one day I'm going to die leaving a heck of a lot of stuff unfinished that it really hit me. So, if that was going to be my reality anyway, why was I spending so much of my time trying to do it all?
Regardless of what I did or didn’t do now, my plate at the end of the day was still going to be left unfinished.
I took a serious look at what I was doing. Was I spending time on important stuff and with people who were important to me? Yes, to a certain extent but I was also wasting a lot of time on stuff that really wasn't important and in the big picture of my life was actually holding me back from what I should be focusing my energy on.
My life was unbalanced. I was more exhausted and stressed than I was happy and content. Inner peace was a foreign concept and my sense of well-being took a backseat to a feeling of overwhelm.
I decided it was time to end my obsession with trying to do it all. I started spending time making lists of things that were personally important and things that were not. I also started prioritizing better and dropping items from my ‘to do’ list.
I remain a work in progress and still struggle with finding a healthy balance of the things that really do need to get done with the things that are important to me. Now that my ‘to do’ list is shorter and only filled with my priorities, my day-to-day is much easier to schedule, I’m happier and I have more energy to enjoy the important stuff.
Is your personal inbox overflowing?
I welcome your feedback re: the steps you’re taking to reduce the stress and overwhelm in your life.
What have you found that works and what challenges do you still face?
Please leave your comments below. Thanks and have a beautiful day!