Confessions of a Serial Over-Committer

Photo by Jason Leung on UnSplash

I am a Virgo and by nature, Virgos love serving others and acting as caregivers. Being of service to others is both a blessing…and a curse! In my constant pursuit to serve others, I often say “yes” WAY too often. My husband has noted that I will help another person to my own detriment. The sad thing is, he’s not lying! I have to confess that I am a “Serial Over-Committer.” Unfortunately, saying it out loud is not half the battle.

The disappointing concern for me is that I have made very little progress towards improving. When my son’s school asked for one auction item donation, I just had to produce two. When my supervisor asked me to spearhead some updates to an old process, I just had to suggest a total overhaul. I have this innate need to make all things around me better even if it is not better for me. But overall, I am slowly trying to be more cognizant of how much time to devote to extracurricular activities.

As a “Serial Over-Committer,” I have to first think of all the things I am in my life and what tasks I take on (required or voluntary). I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, employee, and homeowner…but you all know the list goes on. Of the things I am, those aforementioned will always take priority. I don’t have the option of dropping the proverbial ball when it comes to family, work or our home. So how exactly can a “Serial Over-Committer” prioritize tasks to make her life more manageable?

I recently read an article that examined how to prioritize your workload when all your tasks feel like an emergency. It is a “how to” guide for putting out fires when EVERYTHING, at least at work, is on fire. It has some helpful tips and it sparked a thought in me; what are some steps anyone can take to better balance life as a whole?

Don’t let the “To Do” list dictate your life.

I only make one list in my day-to-day life that I live and die by: grocery list. Aside from that, I don’t make it a habit to create “To Do” lists. They genuinely add pressure to a sometimes already tense situation.

I use Microsoft Outlook for email and it is my primary tool at work. It has a nice Tasks feature where I can flag an item and give (or not give) it a specific due date. I think that type of organization is how we should approach all aspects of life. Flag the important things so we get to them when time permits. That may mean setting a reminder in your calendar on your phone or scheduling your text messages/emails to go out at a certain time. Don’t restrict yourself by religiously following a “To Do” list. Heaven knows no one wants their life dictated by a Post-it® note (physical or digital).

Phase-out the frivolous.

Of my suggestions, this is the hardest to follow through on. It is difficult to admit that you are failing at one job or another but at the same time, you have to think of how many people are negatively impacted by your shortcomings. We have to take inventory in life and let the frivolous things fall by the wayside.

Are there any committees you are on where the work is not worth the reward? Do you participate in any organizations that are not fruitful? Have you volunteered with a non-profit that thankfully has more helping hands than work to be done? If you answered yes to any of those three questions, then it is time to assess the significance of your participation. Take a step back and figure out if you are adding value or losing time.

Do what you love. You will always find time for it.

I have always believed that people make time for the things that matter. Be it subconscious or deliberate, you will make time for the important tasks in our life.

Writing this blog is cathartic. Sharing my words and thoughts is, in my opinion, a necessary task in my life. I love it and I make the time to do it! Just like I love being a member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.  so I can help my son explore enriching experiences in a world that is not meant to empower him. I also love having time to socialize with friends and peers so I send a monthly text to have a Happy Hour date with my friends who live near me and can relate to my daily battles. Those are things I love that while they are not mandatory…they are necessary for me!

I know most of us are familiar with work-life balance and how detrimental it can be if there is a lack of it in the workplace. Well I want to coin a new term to use when our entire life needs some changes to be better aligned: the Juggle Juncture.

If your life needs some realignment, go back to the proverbial balls I talked about. Think to yourself “I am at a juncture where I cannot juggle anymore. What ball can I drop?” It is a simple way to check-in with yourself and have an honest, internal (or external if you want the feedback of those in your village) conversation.

If you have reached the Juggle Juncture (patent pending), you know you are stretched thin and over-committed. Sis, don’t be afraid to drop a ball that is not worth the effort! Let it fall to your feet. If it is valuable to you, just remember that it won’t be far away. Trust me…you don’t want to become the clown in the circus that draws the biggest laughs as the crowd watches her juggling act go down in flames.

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