It’s always so easy for entrepreneurs to say that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, but what about the idea that maybe you’re simply taking on far too much than you can comfortably handle?
Maybe you’ve heard that you can do anything that you put your mind to – and you really can, but you can’t do everything all at once! Some people would rather spend their days frantically running around trying to please everyone (or even just themselves), and that’s just fine if it works for them. But if you don’t want to live your life like you’re treading water and trying not to drown, then the first thing you need to do is to simply admit that you’re taking on more than what’s really good for you – and then do something about it.
That being said, I’m the perfect example of the entrepreneur who just won’t say no – I have way too many things on my own plate myself. In fact, I’ve been trying to write this blog post for almost three weeks now which is pretty ironic, don’t you think? For a while there every single day felt like a race to get things done. I would chug my coffee in the morning like it’s going out of style and then frantically jump from one thing to the next throughout the day, trying not to think about how tired I really was. I love having so many great, creative things going on in my life, but if I try to do too much I start to feel tired, frantic, overwhelmed, forgetful, rushed, etc. and I don’t always do my best work because of this. Do you know the feeling?
So why don’t we say no more often?
I think it’s because we want it all! I know I do. But I also know that I can’t actually have it all. So maybe instead of trying to decide what you can cast away from your day, try thinking about what absolutely positively does. It’s can be very hard to do, but if you’re super overwhelmed you might benefit from really thinking hard about everything you do and prioritizing. If you’re able to spend some time alone in a quiet space, you may just find that you already know these answers deep inside.
For me, I realized that my ultra long to do lists were actually detrimental because they overwhelmed me and threw me into stress mode right when my day was just beginning. Instead, I write a list of the 5 most important things I want to get done during the day and put them in order of importance. It gives me a better chance of getting everything done and I usually take care of what matters most first.
I started to think about the other things that stressed me out – like the huge stack of books I had out from the library or the 700 unread blogs posts in my RSS feed that I felt obligated to read even though I clearly didn’t have time – and thought about all of the other little things that I got into the habit of thinking I had to do, but really didn’t. I think it’s just about looking at all of the things you do in a new perspective – are there simply not enough hours left in the day or have you just piled way more things on to your plate than you could possibly eat in one sitting?
Here are a few good resources on time management & prioritizing:
TeuxDeux – This is a free online service that helps you easily organize your to do lists and also synchs up with smartphones so you can check things off on the go.
Are you too busy? – Another great post that takes the idea of rethinking how busy you are to the next level.
How good is your time management? – This time management quiz from Mind Tools helps you target certain things you can do to be more productive with your time.