“He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.” ~Raymond Hull
What does overextending yourself look like? It resembles lunch on your lap, misplaced keys and wearing your shirt inside out. It looks like an elastic band that’s about to snap, and you can already anticipate the sting. Obviously, if you want to avoid the pain, it’s best you learn how to release the tension.
You need to hear this: if you’re being flung in every direction, then you’re not really following through on anything or doing anything particularly well.
Your internal foundation will be shaky; health, money, relationships and work will eventually crack. What’s even worse than that is the speed with which your life will fly by without enjoying all the simple moments, these moments which are your life.
We are all busy–relationships, kids, work and friends, and it’s good to be a go-getter, but when your Martha Stewart persona has been replaced with a frenzied Wile E Coyote, things are about to blow up.
Consider this scenario: The shrill voice of your good friend booms through the phone complaining about the stress of planning their exotic European vacation. Wait a second–what did she just say? Did she just say she needs you watch their dog? That’s right, the 120 pound Marley-and-Me replica; the one that chews, drools and tries to hump your sweet golden retriever.
The last ounce of energy has just been sucked out of you.Advertising
Okay, stop right there!
It’s okay to admit that you can’t take this on right now.
If you agree to babysit the Marley-and-Me devil, you will resent your friend for it. You will silently curse the nerve of her to drop this responsibility on you when you are in the middle of a major work project. This is going to strain your relationship.
Your family will take the brunt of this decision.
How will you respond? My bet is in two weeks time, you’ll be chasing Marley off your poor retriever with a broom.
We have a choice on how to respond to others’ demands. We are under no obligation. Our first priority must be our own needs.
I know you want to be helpful and agreeable. You likely hate conflict and have no idea even how to say NO. And I know that most of all, you don’t want to lose out on opportunities.Advertising
If we don’t recognize and satisfy our own needs then we are no good to anyone else. Like the elastic you will eventually snap. And then you’ll be of no use to your kids, work or your friend’s dog.
If any of this sounds like you, then you need to make some changes.
1. You spend time worrying about time.
This is the first clue. If you stress about even a five-minute change in schedule, jump right down to the solutions. You are overextended.
2. You eat on the go.
The last time you sat down for a proper meal was the family Thanksgiving dinner. Really?
3. You’re not getting enough sleep.
You’re so tired that all you can think about is sleep, but ironically, you’re so busy that you don’t get enough sleep. When you do blindly fall into bed at night, you wake up at the witching hour, compiling to-do lists while wrestling with your pillow.
That’s right, you’re starting to resemble a zombie.
4. You don’t have time for friends, favors or hobbies.
You haven’t seen your friends in months, haven’t had time to phone your siblings in weeks and can’t even remember the last time you did something spontaneous.Advertising
If you’re starting to resent people asking for favors, it might be time to consider cutting back.
5. Your Health.
Are you experiencing muscle tension, back aches or insomnia? While these symptoms could be from a number of issues, overextending yourself will cause stress, which we all know is the big “silent killer.”
6. Can’t handle changes.
You want, no, let me rephrase, you need everything to go exactly as planned, and it’s not going to go as planned. One little shift and like a Jenga puzzle, it’s all going to come toppling down around you.
If you’ve crossed over into this muddy territory, you’ll need to consider making some changes.
You will need to write a list to assess what changes you can make. I know you don’t have time for lists–that’s the problem, right? Well consider taking a day off work, or wake up extra early tomorrow.
Start with outer changes. Maybe hire a housekeeper or a babysitter or maybe take a break from social engagements. But along with outer changes, there are also some inner changes that will need to happen.
Let’s get back to a balanced life, shall we?
1. Put you first.
Put your own needs above all others. Much like in a plane, always put your mask on first; you are no good to anyone if you break down.Advertising
You are a mother/father, wife/husband, sister/brother and friend, but these roles don’t define who you are. Do you something you love once a week. Even if its just curling up with a good book.
Stop taking life so seriously. No matter what’s happening, life will go on; stop causing yourself unneeded stress.
3. Learn how to be assertive–say NO.
Helpful hints to saying “no” without causing a rift:
- Tell them “maybe,” then take the proper time to think it over.
- Be honest and explain that you can’t commit because you have previous priorities.
- Soften the blow by saying, “I’d love to but…”
- Give them a suggestion: “I’m not the best person to help you with that because…”
4. Ignore Expectations.
Accept that what others think you should do might not be what you want or need. And that’s okay. You need to learn that what other people love, like golf or skiing, you really don’t enjoy. Don’t be afraid to be honest. Lose your “shoulds” and realize that you don’t have to do anything.
5. You’re not Perfect.
If you miss a spot on the bathroom floor, it’s okay. Being perfect can replace any sense of fun with a nagging, soul-sucking, endless effort that never gets anything quite right. Stop obsessing; perfectionism will only leave you frustrated.
6. Make yourself a realistic schedule.
Take a deep breath and focus on one task at a time. Fully complete each task before moving onto the next.
So take care of yourself today.
Take time to:
- do something that will make YOU feel happy!
What items can you streamline in your life to make things smoother? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Last Updated on September 16, 2019
How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators
You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.
We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.
The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.
Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:
1. Break Your Work into Little Steps
Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.
For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –
- (1) Research
- (2) Deciding the topic
- (3) Creating the outline
- (4) Drafting the content
- (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
- (6) Revision
- (7) etc.
Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.
2. Change Your Environment
Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.
One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.
3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines
Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.
Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.
My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.
Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines
4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops
If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.
Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.
I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.
5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action
I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You
Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.
As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.
6. Get a Buddy
Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.
I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.
7. Tell Others About Your Goals
This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.
For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.
8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome
What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.
9. Re-Clarify Your Goals
If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.
Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?
10. Stop Over-Complicating Things
Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.
Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.
11. Get a Grip and Just Do It
At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.
I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.
More About Procrastination
- 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life
- 10 Best Ted Talks About Procrastination That Will Ignite Your Motivation
- Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)
- What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)
Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com