We’ve all done it before. You know, saying “yes” to something when our hearts and minds (and calendars) tell us to say “no.” Or we agree to take on too many responsibilities because we believe we have the time to take care of them all.
Maybe it’s because we don’t want to let others down. Or maybe we just have a burning desire to help out and are always looking for an opportunity to serve. Most likely, though, it’s because we overestimate the time we have available and have not learned to say “no” effectively.
In my training to become a Certified Life Coach, I’ve come across an interesting way to describe this problem of overestimating our available time. It’s called OOPS–Overly Optimistic Planning Syndrome.
I have been guilty of this in the past. Although I have not conquered OOPS yet, I am definitely making progress and my calendar and sanity thank me for it.
Too often I would say “yes” to an opportunity because it sounded like a good idea at the time and I thought I had the time in my schedule to do it. Then when I actually had to be available or do something related to the opportunity, I realized that I didn’t really have the time for it like I thought I would. That would lead to frustration on my part and cause me to be cranky any time I had to do something related to the opportunity.
A few months ago I wrote a blog post on how to say no without feeling guilty. If you need help in that area, I encourage you to check it out.
What I’d like to talk about today is how to avoid OOPS and plan your time wisely.
Here are a few things you can do when you find yourself overloaded with responsibilities:
1. Examine your schedule.
I mean really look close at your schedule. What commitments do you have that do not line up with your passions, strengths, and gifts? Where are you spending the most of your time? Is it in areas that are very important to you in this stage of your life, or are you stuck with another person’s agenda because you didn’t say no?
See what activities take up the most of your time. How is your social media usage? Can you cut back in some areas of your life?
2. Ask yourself some clarifying questions.
- What led me to this overloaded schedule?
- Which activities bring me joy?
- Which activities drain me?
- How can I make better use of my time to fulfill the goals I have set for myself?
Asking yourself these questions will help you clarify what you need to keep in your schedule and what you need to get rid of.
3. Determine one small step you can take that will unburden your schedule.
Often when we try to overhaul our schedules, we want to throw everything out and start over from scratch. Let’s be honest. That can be kind of intimidating.
We need to start with where we are and make small but noticeable changes that will build on each other until our schedule looks more realistic.
For instance, say you find yourself spending a couple hours a day on social media when you should be doing something else. Start by setting a timer for 15-30 minutes and only spend that time on social media. When the timer goes off, log off your accounts and try not to get back on until you’ve completed some other more important tasks. (This is for those who do not need to be on social media all the time for their job.)
Having OOPS is not fatal, however it can sure derail any goals or plans we may have if we don’t conquer it. I challenge you to take a good look at your schedule and see what you can do to overhaul it and avoid OOPS.