Nowadays, it can feel like there is more to do and less time in every day. A lot of us are now working from home, balancing home-life distractions and Zooming up a storm while our to-do lists wait. And then there are some of us have had to take on the role of teacher while our kids are schooling from home, making the work-life-balance feel even less attainable. Our to-do lists are ever-growing, and our time ever-fleeting.
When you max out your bandwidth, the odds are against you – no matter how much time there is. If you are putting too much on your plate or pushing yourself to the point of burnout, you won’t be able to complete your tasks productively or efficiently.
So many of us feel like now that we are working from home, we are expected to take on more tasks to prove our value from afar – but that just isn’t true. The more you do, and the less effectively you do it, is more consequential than just saying no when you need to.
But how do we know when we have pushed our bandwidth to its capacity? How do we figure out what to say no to or what to put off until tomorrow? Below are some telltale signs that you might be overextending yourself and how you can alter your mindset – both personally and professionally.
Stop Striving For Perfection
Do you hold yourself and your work to impossible standards? Do you spend more time on a project – not because you haven’t done it effectively and efficiently – but because you always think you should be doing better? Well, stop. The pursuit of perfection is unattainable. Instead, ask yourself if you have done your best and tried your hardest. If you can answer yes, then it is time to move on.
Stop Saying Yes To Every New Task/Project
Do you find yourself saying yes to everything? Are you the go-to person for handing things off to because you never say no? Do you feel like you have to prove your worth, so you say yes without even thinking it through? Well, stop. Your value and worth are not determined by how many projects you complete in a day. Nor are they determined by being the “just say yes” person.
It is always better to do one job well than a bunch of jobs just so-so. Learn to respect your time so that others will respect it as well.
Stop Clocking Back In After You’ve Clocked Out For The Day
Do you find yourself checking your work email after hours? Do you find yourself doing “just one last thing” after hours? Well, stop. Yes, it is difficult to set boundaries when working from home, and everything is so easily accessible online, but you need to set boundaries. Just like when you used to leave the office for the day and any emails that came through were waiting for you in the morning, the same should apply at home. Just because you can check your email doesn’t mean you should.
Stop Underestimating Your Time
Do you tend to think there are more hours in the day than there are? Do you find yourself thinking that there is no way you won’t finish all of your projects and any additional ones you take on in a day? Do you tend to forget that life happens, last-minute tasks happen, interruptions happen, and that you can’t always account for all of the minutes in a day – especially now that you are working from home and distractions are everywhere? Well, it’s time (pun intended) to be more realistic with your time. Remember to account for some room to breathe in between tasks, and to account for catch-up time in between projects and at the end of your day, and give yourself a little grace if you can’t get to it all in one day.
Instead of focusing on what is still on your list or what you might be missing, make sure to stay present. There is no better way to lose steam and to lose focus if you are thinking about what is next on the list. Stay in the moment of what you are doing, worry about the next task when you get there. Worry is the most useless negative emotion and doesn’t do you (or your to-do list) a bit of good. So stop wasting that energy so you can stay productive in the moment – it’s the only way you will get to your next tasks.
All of these tips are here to remind us that we are only human, there is only a given lot of time in a day, and when we stretch ourselves too thin, we aren’t able to give anything our full attention. Establishing a work-life balance and boundaries has gotten more difficult this year, which is why we need to take the time to focus on what is really important in a day – and part of what is really important is knowing when to stop.
“…the best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to concentrate with all your intelligence, all your enthusiasm, on doing today’s work superbly today. That is the only possible way you can prepare for the future.” –Dale Carnegie