If you have any real intention of diminishing the overwhelm in your life, you first need to know what your commitments are. No matter how you think about it, one of the factors that leads to overwhelm is too many commitments. Thus, it makes sense that diminishing your overwhelm can come from winnowing down that list of commitments.  And this is far easier said than done…

However, before you can winnow, you have to know what your commitments are. Some people would think, ‘Well, duh, Meggin. I know what my commitments are.’ Here would be my response, “Uh, actually, no, you probably don’t.” In reality, there are only a handful of people who REALLY know what all they are committed to. The rest of us may have a pretty good sense or a rather vague sense and either way, that’s not good enough. That uncertainty is a contributor to the ‘overwhelm’ feeling.

A big reason why folks get in to overwhelm is because they just say (and believe), “Yeah, I can do that.” And then when the next request comes, they say (and believe), “Sure. I can do that.” Other inquiries are met with the words (and belief), “You bet. I can do that.”

And then, all of a sudden, when the reality hits or in some way we start checking out what we have already committed to, then it is freak-out time. It’s for this reason that I have the policy (and recommend that you do, too) of NOT saying yes immediately…to anything…No matter what.  The reason is that to make a valiant effort to avoid overwhelm, it’s smart to check out this new request against what else you’ve agreed to, put on your calendar, and said you are going to make happen.

When you have too many commitments, both legitimate and ones that are less so, it’s overwhelming. One way to think about it is with this Chinese proverb:

One cannot manage too many affairs: like pumpkins in the water, one pops up while you try to hold down the other.

To move to being ‘just whelmed,’ you need to get a handle on what you’ve made commitments to.  You’ll need a few tools:

  • A planner. This is an all-encompassing term, but the gist of it is this:  You need something, either paper, electronic, or a combination of the two that indicates all of the appointments that you have. Before this item does you any good, however, you need to write in EVERYTHING that you have actually committed to, as far as appointments. Appointments include meetings of every type, times when you are supposed to be picking up a child from school or an extra-curricular activity, places you are scheduled to be for work or personal (sporting events, trade shows, receptions, parties, walk-throughs, or the like).
  • Your planner needs to include a ‘to-do’ list. And I’m talking both the micro and macro version of a ‘to-do’ list. The micro-versions might include various and sundry tasks that you are thinking of doing today or in the next few days. Macro-versions are project lists with both big and large tasks, commitments, and responsibilities listed. I know I’m scaring you now since some readers will think, ‘OHMYGOSH! You mean I should have all this written down?’ The answer is, “Yes,” but I won’t go into that in great detail in this week’s email…contact me for more info on this if you just can’t wait.
  • Time to actually sit and think about this. Figuring out what your commitments are (particularly if it’s gotten you into overwhelm) isn’t something you can do ‘on the fly.’ You need to dedicate adequate uninterrupted time to this endeavor. Look in your planner now and figure out when that time will be.

It may be that you need to get your list of appointments, to-do’s, projects, etc. together and THEN you can begin to determine your overall level of commitment. So plan now to do that very thing.

Available to Promise

And to help you manage your time and commitments, you will want to access the teleseminar, ATP: Available to Promise How much time & energy (truthfully) do you have ‘available to promise’?, available for immediate download.

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