Advice for the Over Committed

Juggling too much

Stage 2 Planning Partners offers these reasons for one’s over committed-ness.

The reasons are:
1. You have terrible time and project management skills.
2. You’re over committed.

…But professor! Isn’t there another option? There’s got to be another reason, right? Nope. You are either not managing your time wisely, or you have too much going on. 

When given the opportunity to accept another responsibility exercise your ability to say, “no”. I have heard that advice from many people, including my lovely wife. She often loathes my amazing talent to say, “yes” to almost everything. The fact is, I love to do a lot of things (just look at my “About Me” page), I really enjoy helping as many people as I possibly can. As Monk would say, “It’s a blessing, and a curse”.

I liked to be liked. Translated this means I will tell someone I will do something just because I want to be viewed as a nice person. And if I have the ability to accomplish the task(s) then why not accept…right? You can, but eventually you will get bogged down with responsibilities that drain your cognitive ability to think creatively.

I recently read an article about Cognitive Stamina which describes your a ability to make decisions each day using the analogy of a budget (congress could never understand this analogy). Each day we have only so many decisions we can make before we go into auto-pilot. So, the more decisions we can reduce or eliminate each day will dictate how much more brain power you will have to put toward the things you are truly passionate about. I highly encourage you to read the article on it. You might find some things you can change in your life.

Every decision, big or small, every moment of mental focus, and every act of comprehension is part of your day’s cognitive stamina. Let’s call that your cognitive budget. When your stamina is drained, you revert to your lazy self, choosing actions which are habitual, familiar and routine. Your stamina recharges completely overnight (and gets a partial refill after every meal). Colloquially, people are most likely to think of this as willpower. Although scientists are most likely to refer to this as decision fatigue

You cannot do everything. If you try, you will drain your cognitive budget and not be able to make meaningful decisions. This means to be creative and truly inspired, you cannot drain your cognitive budget which will revert you strait back to old familiar habits that take little decision making skills.

Tips for alleviating your over commitment:

1. If possible, delegate responsibilities. 
“Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” –Booker T. Washington
You may have too much on your plate because you’re hording all the responsibilities. Do you trust others to carry out responsibilities? There might be a deeper issue here.

2. Say, “no” if it’s not a passion or way to reach your goal
“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” –Vincent van Gogh
Notice he said “passion” not simply doing things that no one else would do. Protect your cognitive budget for the things that matter most. If you drain your decision-making on obligation then there is less to contribute

3. Create something new
Those who are over committed have little energy left to create something new. They are too busy fulfilling responsibilities that they have little mental capacity to make something unique or truly inspiring. 

Crosswalk.com offers some great advice in an article about over commitment saying,

When you take these questions to the Lord and say “God, please confirm to me if I am the one to do this” and then wait for His answer, you can be more certain that you are called to a specific task and that you aren’t just filling your schedule with something else that’s going to stress you out or wear you down.

You can make plans all you want, but if God does not offer his blessing you will continue to feel worn out and have less of an impact in the world.

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
– Proverbs 16:3

I hope this post has been beneficial to you. I’m learning too. As an over committed person, I struggle with doing the very things I am writing about. If you have had success, let me know what you did to overcome.

Thanks for reading!

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2 thoughts on “Advice for the Over Committed

  1. Guilty hand in the air! Dealing with the self worthlessness feeling right now of being over commited and stretched thin added with the disappointment of others who want more from me.

    1. Just understand your limits (and I think you’ve reached them) and find out what you can say “no” to. It’s really hard, and I know your situation, so I understand the bind you find yourself. Twila and I will pray for you and your family. It was so nice seeing you over Christmas! 🙂

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