You’ve got a maxed out, overly full, bursting at the seams, puking up appointments kind of schedule. You may start with work or routine responsibilities, then add some family or social obligations, perhaps you want to expand your education or enhance your personal or professional development, maybe you have kids who participate in a multitude of extracurricular activities, maybe you’re bartering time to save money or DIYing some shit… however it happens, you bite off more than you can chew. Now just thinking about your calendar raises your heart rate or makes you feel like you’re going to throw up.

If you’re like me, you experience this level of schedule induced anxiety, yet continue to ADD MORE to your plate. Someone says, “Hey can you help me do this random thing on that day you already have a bunch of shit planned?” and you say, “Sure!” Or they go, “I need you to work for hours for free even though you’re super busy” and you say, “Ok! It’ll look good on my resume!” Or maybe you do it to yourself when you register for a class/program that will require a bunch of extra time that you don’t have but you really believe it’s going to change your life for the better. Possibly it happens when you think you’re the only person skilled or knowledgeable enough to get a project done properly, so you take it on even though you really would rather not.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

I have a few ideas why:

Insecurity (desire to impress)
Fear of upsetting or disappointing others
FOMO (fear of missing out)
Blind ambition
Cultural conditioning
Demanding children
Straight up foolishness

Here are some important things to remember when you find yourself running ragged and feeling irritable and overwhelmed:

  • You’re a limited resource; you can only give or do so much.
  • If people get upset or feel disappointed, they have the power to manage their own emotions. It’s not your responsibility to keep everyone happy.
  • You will ultimately be able to do more if you recognize your limits and TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
  • Boundaries are necessary and absolutely justifiable. Hold yours firmly in place (learn to say no).
  • It’s not how much you do, but how well you do something that really matters. Rather than trying to take on everything, choose a single thing to pour your energy into. The results are far more likely to impress.
  • Delegate. Even if you fear the job won’t be done as well as if you did it yourself. Prioritize and tend to what matters most. Pass the buck on other things when possible (and appropriate/respectful).
  • Let some things go. Forget about what people will think or what you hoped to accomplish. If something is stressing you out more than it’s benefitting you, it may be time to walk away. And that’s OK!

I recently had to back out of a commitment way sooner than I hoped. Which may have inconvenienced some people. It probably created some negative judgment of me. It definitely deprived some worthy individuals of my support. Yet, in the end, the world is still turning, and they’re all fine without me. I had to step away in order to manage my life and protect precious time with my loved ones. Despite some temporary embarrassment and guilt, I’m really glad I made that choice!

Can you relate to having a frenzied, overfull schedule? What helps you prioritize and find balance? Is there something you need to let go of to feel more at ease? Comment and share your thoughts ?

Adina Arden Cooper

I'm a healer, a guide, a supportive companion. A storyteller, an artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals thrive and communities come together through counseling, coaching, and community building. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.