Tick Talk Issue 21“Appointments once made become debts. If I have made an appointment with you, I owe you punctuality; I have no right to throw away your time, if I do my own." - Richard Cecil
Like financial debt, too much time-debt can be a heavy burden to bear. You get yourself into time-debt by saying “yes” to too many future commitments. In actuality, saying “yes” to a future commitment is a verbal promissory note. Promising away your future creates stress. You know at some point those time commitments to other people will come due. Can you keep your promise? Do you really want to? It all hangs over your head.
Make it a point to be as frugal with your time as you are with your money. Respond to requests for your time honestly. If you know you don’t intend to or just plain can’t keep the time-promise then graciously decline the commitment. Maybe you don’t know if you’ll have time. Be honest about that too. Say something like, “I’d like to help you with that and right at this moment I’m not just sure how my schedule will play out with some projects I already have going. Can I get back with you?” In this way you’ve offered to consider the request based on your own personal time needs.
Be generous with your time, yes, but avoid the needless stress of time-debt.
Is Attempting Too Much Frustrating Your Work–Life Balance?
In executive surveys about time, one of the most frequently mentioned incongruities is attempting too much. Many who do this are burdened with a constant nagging feeling of being overwhelmed. Working under this kind of strain often results in rushed projects, more mistakes, resentment, and even anger.
Picture yourself trying to pack physical objects into a box that is too small. After arranging and rearranging you finally accept the fact that something needs to be left out. People who attempt too much do something similar. They think they can “pack” more events into a “box of time” than it can hold. When they recognize that only so much can be squeezed into their day they are forced with a decision. What will they choose to leave undone? All too often the result is to leave out personal things and then work-life balance suffers.
Is it possible to replace the habit of attempting too much? Yes, but it probably will require a shift in mind-set. There are some common threads among people who attempt too much. They usually do not delegate, they often allow too many interruptions, and they are into their ego thinking that they are the most capable solution to every problem. People who are overwhelmed frequently procrastinate themselves into a crisis mode and are not good at life management. These characteristics have in common a sense of self importance.
Those of us who attempt too much need to make the appropriate adjustments in the areas that apply. Grow others by delegating responsibility. Learn to say, “not yet” to interruptions that can wait until a more appropriate time. Plan ahead! Remember your daily time box can only hold so much. Act according to your plan! These are the “new” habits you need to implement in order to minimize the feeling of overwhelm that comes from that “old” habit of attempting too much. These habits will help you keep your work-life balance in a manageable state of ebb and flow. When compared with the intense, sustained peaks of feeling overwhelmed, the choice is obvious.