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Are You Overcommitting?


A forgotten or dropped task on an unmanageable To Do list? A missed opportunity because you were too busy chasing the menial? Another disappointed face for the broken promise you did not have time to keep?

Sound familiar? Then you are guilty of overcommitting. You, and a million other women, who are trying their best to stay on top of a list of “priorities” that never seems to reduce.

Overcommitting is the modern woman’s worst trait. Yet many of us feel compelled to take on nearly every request that comes our way because we assume each one falls within our many roles and responsibilities. The irony is that this kind of limitless commitment diminishes our capacity in each of those roles.

Here are woman with drive’s five strategies to nip that over-commitment habit in the bud.


#1: Choose discomfort over resentment

Asked to make a dozen lamingtons for a school bake sale on the same day as a crucial work presentation? Invited to a family reunion that will include your least favourite relatives?

When we say “yes” to these unappealing things, it is because we feel it is the easier answer. But trading a few seconds of discomfort is not worth seething in resentment for the next few days or weeks.

The next time you are asked to participate in something that makes you baulk, thrust yourself into momentary discomfort by saying no and enjoy the lasting peace of mind that comes with it.


#2: Do few things well instead of many things poorly

Jess Lee, CEO and co-founder of social commerce website Polyvore was asked by Huffington Post how she maintains work/life balance. She replied that one of the company’s core values is to do a few things well.

“In other words, only work on the things that actually matter and do them exceptionally well. Be disciplined about saying no to things. Saying yes to everything is what leads to people becoming overcommitted, stretched thin, and pulling crazy hours to get it all done.”


#3: Put Thought Into Your Refusal

When you next receive a request that does not immediately thrill you, do not opt for a knee jerk reaction. Think about the advantage it has for you, how much time it would take to deliver quality work, and how it fits into your existing workload.

Then if you do end up saying no, offer an alternative and communicate this in person (if you can) rather than via email. And do not allow the other person to guilt or flatter you into changing your mind.


#4: Filter Between The Urgent and Important

Too much of anything is dangerous if you are not equipped to deal with it in the right manner. So if you find yourself in a swirl of tasks that all demand to be tackled immediately, try to follow Maile Carnegie’s lead.

As the Head of Google Australia told marie claire, “You have to start getting good filters around what is considered urgent and what is considered important and be able to really filter through the information into those two categories. If you cannot do that you will suffocate.”

Once you have started filtering through those tasks, schedule the few urgent ones into your calendar to prevent the many important ones from hijacking your day.


#5: Outsource

According to Margie Warrell, the author of Stop Playing Safe, just because you can do something well does not mean you are the only person who can or has to do it.

“Think about the things that take up your day that could be done just as well (or nearly as well) by someone else, freeing up your time to focus on even more valuable things. Ask yourself “Is this the highest use of my time?” and if the answer is no, then consider who could do it for you.”

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