It’s not too difficult to determine if you are overscheduled. Before you look at your planner or BlackBerry, consider your mood and your feelings in general. These are excellent indicators of how your life is going and if you are trying to squeeze too much into too little time.
As adults, we’re responsible for so much, it’s almost frightening. Just the basic things we do every day to keep ourselves going take up a huge amount of our time. Add to those basics extra activities for our children, loved ones, friends, and neighbors; and it’s a wonder if we have any time at all left for ourselves.
If you find yourself feeling constantly stressed or resentful, it may be even worse than you think. You could have depression caused by the stress. What can you do to break the chains that are holding onto you and your valuable time like a vise?
First of all, try to put everything in its proper perspective. It may help to make a list of all your activities, from work to outside obligations. Divide up the list into two columns, one for things you must do every week without fail; and the other for things that may give you some wiggle room. Try to be honest about this.
If you are overscheduled because you have taken on extra volunteer activities or if you are caring for an elderly parent, perhaps you can think of possible ways to eliminate some of these list items.
For example, if you are doing too much volunteer work, cut down, even if you like doing it. Also, if you have the duty of caring for a parent, find a way to either have someone else in the family relieve you, or set up a completely new schedule, using outside caregivers. Of course, you will still help out but not to the extent that it is cutting off any free time you may have. And don’t be shy when it comes to asking for help from other family members. (If they can’t give their time, ask that they help pay for professional caregivers.)
Next look at all of your children’s activities and try to determine a way that you may not have to be the one to take (or pick up) each child to and from after school practices, lessons, etc. Have you explored the idea of carpooling? If not, talk to other parents and see if it’s something that would benefit all of you.
If you are overscheduled, you are stressed and not a happy person. You deserve to have some free time to do whatever you want to do, whether it’s catching up on sleep, reading a novel, or going to the movies. Don’t become a martyr to your schedule. You are in control; you just have to remember that and plan accordingly.