How to Avoid Overcommitment

OK, hands up — who among you feels like you’re doing too much? And how much of your to do list is made up of things that you’ve promised you’ll do, but you actually really don’t want to do?

Overcommitment is incredibly common; in fact, it’s one of the main ways that people get stuck in the busy trap, spending all of their time doing lots of stuff, but not actually making any progress on what matters.

Your time is every bit as precious an asset as your money, so you have to make sure that you’re using it wisely. To protect your time and avoid overcommitment, you need to:

Schedule the most important things up front, right NOW.

We all have the best of intentions when it comes to scheduling in the things that really matter to us, whether that’s coffee with a good friend, exercising in the morning, or calling your Mum on a Sunday. But the truth is, if something doesn’t get scheduled, it’s almost certainly not going to happen.

You’ve got to schedule in the things that really matter to you well ahead of time and then make them completely non-negotiable, or they’ll just slip down your priority list. And the bigger or more important the event is, the earlier you need to schedule it.

For instance, my son and I take a vacation with family friends every year. That’s hugely important to me (and takes up a significant chunk of time), so I schedule that in during the first week of January. If it’s something smaller, like a lunch date with a friend, I may schedule it in a month ahead of time, but either way, it’s going on the book well ahead of time.

But what about new things that come up — how do you know what you should commit to and what to pass on? It’s simple.

Say yes if…

  • It really needs to be done.
  • It’s worth doing.
  • You can do it.
  • You want to do it.
  • You’re the best person to do it.
  • Your head and your heart agree that you should do it.

Say no if…

  • You’re not sure what the purpose of the project is.
  • It’s not going to benefit anyone in the long run.
  • Somebody else could do it just as well as you or better.
  • Your motivation for doing it is coming from a negative place — you’re afraid of what someone will say if you don’t do it; you don’t want to let people down; etc.
  • Your head’s on board but your heart isn’t … or vice versa.

(Feel uncomfortable saying no? Here are 10 templates to walk you through it!)

I’d love to know… what are you going to say no to TODAY?