Too much to do in too little time?

Too much to do in too little time?

Do you find yourself running from appointment to appointment with little to no time in between? Are you always on the go and arriving late? If you are like many Americans, you may have the irritating habit of continuously overbooking your calendar. There is actually a psychological explanation behind this irritating behavior. Research conducted by Gal Zauberman, PhD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and John Lynch Jr., PhD, of Duke University indicates that our tendency for overbooking ourselves is because we expect to have more time in the future than our current schedule allows. Of course, when tomorrow becomes today, we often find that not to be the case at all!

Too much to do in too little time?

So, what can we do to prevent ourselves from over-committing and ultimately disappointing ourselves and others? For starters, we can learn to work more productively and efficiently. And second, we can learn to exercise our right to say "no."

Tips for Productivity:

  1. Plan your day. Before you open email, check your voice mail, go down the hall for coffee or greet your fellow co-workers, plan your day. Start each day with a review of your daily "action items" and chart them out on your calendar. Give yourself an extra 10-15 minutes per item so you are not rushed or stressed out by your itinerary.
  2. Stay organized. Keep your desk, your office, computer files and you briefcase organized. Nothing can zap time like disorganization. If you are not a natural born organizer--invest in one. The money you spend hiring a professional organizer will literary buy you more time!
  3. Pass on Spam. Only read your important emails. Jokes, "forwards" and mindless chatter takes almost as much energy as your "real" work. Save the social stuff for your down time when you can really enjoy it.
  4. Check yourself. Check in with yourself throughout the day and evaluate how you are using your time. Be honest and make the necessary adjustments.

Tips for saying "no":

  1. Rephrase it. Sometimes the word itself can just sound so harsh. So instead of saying, "no," decline in other ways. 1) I am not able to that right now. 2) Not this time, but thanks for asking. 3) I appreciate the offer, but I can't this time.
  2. Don't make excuses. When you need to decline. Just say "no" and leave it at that. There is no need to go into any other explanation. Just a simple, "No, but thank you," really will suffice.
  3. Be assertive. Start your sentence with "no" while shaking your head.
  4. Buy some time. Sometimes a simple request for time to think about the request is all you need. If the request is really important, the question will resurface. Give yourself some time to think about it and then answer accordingly.

The tendency to overbook our schedules leads to a lot of unnecessary stress and disappointment. Be fair to yourself and to those who depend on you by keeping a realistic and manageable list of action items on your daily calendar.

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