“I’ve got too much to do, I’ll never get it all done” is the lament of our contemporary culture. This is actually an easy problem to fix, but you’re going to have to be willing to give a few things up. You see, the problem isn’t that you don’t have enough time, the problem is that you’ve taken on too many things to do.
You’ve all no doubt heard the standard solutions to getting more done...
Make lists (that didn’t work for me, my lists had lists)
Handle small tasks immediately (small tasks like taking out the garbage aren’t the problem)
Use ‘waiting’ time wisely (heaven forbid you just sit and relax for even just a few minutes between activities)
Spend a 1/2 hour every morning “planning and prepping” so that you can get the maximum accomplished each and every day (yep, that’s what I want my life to be about! Sounds like such a fun day!)
While these strategies are the typical fare for time management, they don’t address the real problem. They’re more like a band-aid that you use to cover a cut so you can keep plowing ahead. The real problem is that you’ve simply taken on too many projects, activities and responsibilities in your life.
You do this because being busy makes you feel important, until it wears you out that is. You do this because you’re a people-pleaser and you feel it’s your job to keep everyone around you happy. You do this because you’re afraid that if you don’t, the people in your life won’t want you around anymore. There are a whole bunch of psychological reasons why people over schedule their lives. But today, we’re not going to focus on the "whys," we’re going to focus on the solution.
The solution is to learn to choose. People don’t tend to stop and ask “Does this new activity, task or responsibility fit into what I really want my life to be about?” Actually, most people really don’t know what they want their life to be about – and that’s the real problem.
Most people are like a piece of wood flowing down the lazy river of life, going wherever the current takes them. Accepting and dealing with whatever they happen to bump into along their journey. This approach leads to having way too many things in your life to handle. Again, the solution comes down to making choices.
Without having a road map picked out for our lives, we don’t have anything to measure the value of what we “bump into” against, so we tend to let it all in. So start out by answering a simple question – What do you want your life to be about? What do you want your family’s life to be about? I’m sure you won’t answer “Running around from one activity to the next constantly feeling overwhelmed and exhausted”.
Once you’ve chosen a direction to go in, measure each activity, task, or responsibility against that vision of your ideal life. You’ll find that many of the things you do on a weekly basis don’t move you in the direction of your goals, and many of them actually pull you in the complete opposite direction! So get out the pruning shears and get to trimming! It’s not about how many things you can get done in a day, it’s about choosing to do the things that drive you in the direction of the life you want to create for yourself and your family.
And finally a bit of advice from from H. Jackson Brown’s Life’s Little Instruction Book: #293 – "Don’t spread yourself too thin. Learn to say no politely and quickly.”