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My Recipe for Time-Based Overwhelm

Making a Salad

I’ve been thinking about time a lot lately. Namely how I never seem to have enough of it and how my ability to accurately determine how much time something will take me to complete is a huge source of overwhelm for me.

So in my on-going quest to nip overwhelm in the bud, I’ve been getting downright geeky about this lately and wanted to share a few insights that I hope will help you too.

The trickiest trap that time lays for me is that I misjudge how much time a task will take me.

I am constantly overestimating the amount of time it takes for me to tackle the tasks that I enjoy the least and underestimating the time for bigger, more enjoyable projects.

When I’m caught off guard by either overestimating or underestimating time, it can be so frustrating.

For example, I’m a world class dish washing avoider. Even though washing the dishes would take practically no time at all (unless I’ve let them pile up over several days), I tend to forget them, then dread doing them as they pile up, and continue putting this simple task off.

Meanwhile, I’m walking around my house with “blinders” on, trying to pretend that the godforsaken dishes aren’t annoying me, because I have so many more important things to do. But inevitably, when I do wash them and can make a meal without having to wash dishes first, I feel soo much better!!

When it comes to bigger projects, underestimating the amount of time it takes means that I often think I can commit to more projects than I can and should.

For example, I thought, launch a new program for my business, pre-production for the upcoming workshop of my play, and rehearsals for another play all at the same time? No problem.

On the level of motivation, all of these projects are huge wins! I’m excited to do all of them. They all felt important to do now and I couldn’t muster the desire or will to say no or later to any of them. And collectively, it turns out they each require more work than I anticipated.

I shouldn’t be surprised.

I’ve been reminding myself a lot lately that everything takes longer than I think it will. (And it is almost always true – except when it comes to things like watering plants or taking out the garbage.)

While nothing horrible has come to pass from me taking on this much at a time, it can be a real challenge to come back to the space and rest that is required for me to do my best work.

So, you’re probably wondering what’s the solution?

It all comes back to presence and getting realigned.

When I realize that I’ve mismanaged time, it is frustrating and I tend to blame myself for getting myself into this position, which is exactly what I don’t need.

Adding pressure to pressure never did anyone any good! It just causes the pot to boil over a little faster.

So my recipe is: 

  1. Recognize what I’m feeling.
  2. I  ask myself why I feel overwhelmed. 
  3. If I’m working too hard and ignoring self-care (and basic tasks like dish washing), I step away and make time for self-care. (Work will still be there tomorrow.)
  4. If I’m frustrated because there is too much on my list and not enough time to do it, I take a step back to prioritize and simplify. What’s most important? Do I need to do everything or is there a way I can accomplish the same result with less action?

Try out my recipe for addressing time-based overwhelm and let me know how it goes. I always love hearing from you.

Have a great weekend!
Natalie

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