Your boss has piled another deadline on your already overbooked calendar, your spouse wants you to stop at the grocery store on your way home for dinner fixings, you haven't even started reading the novel for your monthly book club and that meeting is coming up next week, your daughter's swim club needs your help selling baked goods tomorrow night at the basketball game, and, on top of all that, your son needs 3 dozen chocolate cupcakes with frosting and sprinkles by tomorrow morning.
Sound like a laundry list of your everyday life? Your life and just about everyone else you talk with will provide the same mantra of "so much to do, so little time."
Your days will run one into the next, with no distinction or highlights, unless you take a step back and really look at what is important -- what truly needs your input and help, or what you can let go of and let someone else pick up the slack. The days of "SuperMom" and "SuperDad" are long gone. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to do everything you want to, just make sure it is what you truly want to do.
Instead of feeling like you want to crawl in a hole and hide, saying "no" to absolutely everything and everyone, and having your friends and family wonder about you, consider taking a small step of paring back. Take care of tasks and responsibilities that are important, but also make sure it is what you want to be doing.
There is nothing wrong with:
- Asking your boss for an extension if you can show just cause.
- Compromising on the dinner fixings by either picking up a frozen pizza or considering cooking and freezing meals on the weekends for weekday dinners.
- Taking your half hour lunch break to read.
- Suggesting you will sell baked goods only before swim meets instead of using up another evening.
- Trying to cut a deal for those 3 dozen cupcakes with a local bakery.
Try saying "no" when you know it will only cause you more stress by:
- Explaining to the person asking you to do something that you truly do not have the time now, but would like to help at a later date. Then be true to that promise.
- Asking the person requesting your help if the two of you could work together and cut the time and effort in half. Once again, offer to work together at a later date and keep that promise.
- Holding firm. If you know what is being requested of you is nearly impossible, whether it be time, resources, or capabilities, do not waiver in your decision. Be honest in your explanation and thank the person for thinking of you.
- Smiling and showing appreciation that someone thinks you are capable. A "no" can be swallowed a lot easier if it comes with a smile and a thank-you.
- Being considerate. If you have worked on, let's say fundraisers for school or church, but know that you will not be able to the following year, inform the committee at the end of the fundraiser -- not the next year when the fundraiser is in the planning stages.
- Worrying if you are up to the task. Once again, this is where honesty comes in -- if you do not feel you can get the job done properly or on time, explain this and stop worrying. An overwhelming feeling of imminent failure can do more harm in getting the job done than that little, old "no" will do.
- Being consistent. If you have always been a "do-er" and now find you are "doing" too much, don't start saying "no" to everything. Pick and choose those projects or requests that you find yourself grumbling about, feeling unappreciated, or take you away from what is really important (refer back to third paragraph) and reconsider your priorities.
There are 24 hours in each day, 8 of those are important for sleep, 8-10 of those will be at your job, and that leaves (at best) 6 hours to do everything else. Prioritize, consider your family's needs, your needs, and say "yes" whenever you feel like it.