Too many branches

Photo courtesy of John-Morgan (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of John-Morgan (Creative Commons)

“Pare. Breathe. Pare more.”

That’s the response Chris Brogan, CEO of Human Business Works and New York Times bestselling author of The Impact Equation, advised to one of my fellow Bravelings in the Brave New Year course (affiliate link) I’ve taken.

She listed all the things she has in the works, and then shared how overwhelmed and lost she was feeling on all of her goals. She was doing a lot of great things – maybe too many.

I can identify with her feelings.

As Chris explains, a tree cannot survive with too many branches. If your activities are so many and so tangled up, then of course you will feel unfocused and off course.

“Pare” might be one of my 3 focus words for next year.

I am a joiner – actually the problem is deeper than that. It isn’t so much that I seek things to join; it’s that I cannot say no. Consequently, I end up over-committed, overwhelmed and exhausted.

While it is rewarding to serve in several capacities at church, work full time, blog, help family, take classes to better myself and train for a half marathon, it does cut down the “Carol” time and can lead to not doing any of it well.

So with clippers in hand, I will get busy paring down by:

  • Looking at the full scope of my commitments – many times a request seems innocent enough until you look at the full range of time involved. It isn’t just the monthly meetings but also prep time, follow-up time, extra work involved and before you know it, you are overloaded.
  • Prioritizing my interests – yes it’s nice to be involved in many different activities, but not all are passions. I need to revisit my Life Plan and spell out those things that are most important to me, and then filter my activities through that list. And keep it front and center as new opportunities present themselves.
  • Learning “not now” – often the word “no” is not the best response, but “not now” is more appropriate. There are many activities that I am interested in, but only so many are possible at one time – by saying “not now,” I can keep them on the radar, but not until I complete current activities or change priorities.
  • Winding down – some of my activities have specific time frames, so as I near the end of my commitment, I need to be sure to wind down and not immediately plug in another activity.
  • Building rest into the schedule – instead of over booking with meetings or activities, I need to allow time for rest or “fun” – even if that means blocking off time on the calendar. Actually, that definitely means putting it on the calendar!

By paring down my commitments, not only will I be less overwhelmed, but I can devote my full attention to the activities that mean the most to me. Imagine what that will do to my effectiveness!

What do you need to pare in your life?