Stop Overscheduling Your Life

Reviewed Sep 19, 2017

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Summary

  • Overscheduling can lead to harm.
  • Connect to the moment—take delight in everyday life.
  • Build “do-nothing” time into your life.

We are a nation on the go. Maybe it’s our work-ethic roots or our rock-solid belief in pursuing the American dream. Either way, many of us risk perpetual burnout. Study after study declares that Americans work longer hours and vacation less than our counterparts around the globe.

But businesses aren’t benefiting from overscheduling either. Stressed-out employees often cost the company in mistakes, stifled creativity, and time lost to stress-related illnesses. 

And it’s not just work. We overschedule our personal lives too. We relocate and remodel our homes more than our parents’ generation ever did. We spend more money. We have more toys—more of those “time-saving” electronic devices that require time and attention. Even our kids have schedules filled with play dates, parties, and multiple extracurricular activities. 

Experts have documented that overscheduling leads to:

  • Stress, a frequent culprit in overeating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Substance use disorder
  • Injuries at home, work, and on the road
  • Illnesses ranging from heart disease to immune disorders 

In addition, a hurried life means less time or no time to:

  • Nurture your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self
  • Nurture relationships 
  • Give to the community—we don’t have time to volunteer, to interact with neighbors, to recycle, to vote, to think about the future 

Time to wander and wonder

The mind needs unscheduled time to explore and to be creative. When we slow down our minds start to wander, and such wanderings often lead to personal insights and to ideas that wouldn’t come to us while we’re rushing around or preoccupied with a things-to-do list. Some psychologists will even tell you that all creativity springs from a mind free to daydream. Artists, entrepreneurs, and scientists all rely on such moments for inspiration. 

Appreciate what you have

Instead of striving all the time and thinking about the next thing you need to buy, fix, or do, stop and appreciate what you have and what you’ve accomplished. Parents, for example, are often so focused on where their child is heading—what college, what job—that they forget to appreciate the precious moments of childhood. We work hard for our money and our homes, but do we truly stop, relax and appreciate what we have accomplished? Or, are we planning our next move? Joy often comes from the ability to connect to the moment—to take delight in everyday life.

How to simplify

Overscheduling is a hard habit to break. It becomes an unconscious lifestyle choice. We become addicted to the chaos and constant activity. Some would even argue that we avoid facing the problems in our life by staying constantly busy.

But we can all learn to slow down and build breathing space into our lives.

First, take stock of your life. Write down how much time you spend on the following categories: relationships, work, money, health, recreation, and spirituality. See where it’s out of balance and reshuffle the deck. 

  • If you find you’re spending too much time caring for your house (without getting an equal dose of pleasure in return) consider downsizing.
  • If your commute is taking too long, think about getting a job closer to home or telecommute for at least one day.
  • Limit extracurricular activities for you and your children. Examine each carefully and do only those that have significant value.
  • Chasing the almighty dollar takes a lot of our time. Are you living in a high-cost area? Could you stretch your money more in another location? 

Here are specific and fairly simple suggestions for slowing things down:

  • Build “do-nothing” time into your life. You don’t have to be productive every single minute to justify your life. Make sure you have at least one hour of completely unstructured time each day. Tell yourself: “I’ve been constructive enough today; it’s time to do nothing.” 
  • Stop buying so many things, especially items that require constant maintenance (clothes that need to be dry cleaned and items that need to be polished, dusted or tuned-up). Rent, instead of purchasing, time and money pits such as boats and second homes.
  • Give others space. Your children do not need you to show up for every single game and practice. Your child needs breathing space to make mistakes, to fail, to learn, to have fun without the pressure of a constant audience. Support your child, but don’t smother him. 
  • Limit how often you check emails and surf websites
  • Don’t be a perfectionist
  • Practice saying no. Don’t answer the phone if you don’t want to. Delete junk emails without reading them. Send junk snail mail to the recycling bin without even opening it. 
By Amy Fries
Source: Families and Work Institute, www.familiesandwork.org

Summary

  • Overscheduling can lead to harm.
  • Connect to the moment—take delight in everyday life.
  • Build “do-nothing” time into your life.

We are a nation on the go. Maybe it’s our work-ethic roots or our rock-solid belief in pursuing the American dream. Either way, many of us risk perpetual burnout. Study after study declares that Americans work longer hours and vacation less than our counterparts around the globe.

But businesses aren’t benefiting from overscheduling either. Stressed-out employees often cost the company in mistakes, stifled creativity, and time lost to stress-related illnesses. 

And it’s not just work. We overschedule our personal lives too. We relocate and remodel our homes more than our parents’ generation ever did. We spend more money. We have more toys—more of those “time-saving” electronic devices that require time and attention. Even our kids have schedules filled with play dates, parties, and multiple extracurricular activities. 

Experts have documented that overscheduling leads to:

  • Stress, a frequent culprit in overeating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Substance use disorder
  • Injuries at home, work, and on the road
  • Illnesses ranging from heart disease to immune disorders 

In addition, a hurried life means less time or no time to:

  • Nurture your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self
  • Nurture relationships 
  • Give to the community—we don’t have time to volunteer, to interact with neighbors, to recycle, to vote, to think about the future 

Time to wander and wonder

The mind needs unscheduled time to explore and to be creative. When we slow down our minds start to wander, and such wanderings often lead to personal insights and to ideas that wouldn’t come to us while we’re rushing around or preoccupied with a things-to-do list. Some psychologists will even tell you that all creativity springs from a mind free to daydream. Artists, entrepreneurs, and scientists all rely on such moments for inspiration. 

Appreciate what you have

Instead of striving all the time and thinking about the next thing you need to buy, fix, or do, stop and appreciate what you have and what you’ve accomplished. Parents, for example, are often so focused on where their child is heading—what college, what job—that they forget to appreciate the precious moments of childhood. We work hard for our money and our homes, but do we truly stop, relax and appreciate what we have accomplished? Or, are we planning our next move? Joy often comes from the ability to connect to the moment—to take delight in everyday life.

How to simplify

Overscheduling is a hard habit to break. It becomes an unconscious lifestyle choice. We become addicted to the chaos and constant activity. Some would even argue that we avoid facing the problems in our life by staying constantly busy.

But we can all learn to slow down and build breathing space into our lives.

First, take stock of your life. Write down how much time you spend on the following categories: relationships, work, money, health, recreation, and spirituality. See where it’s out of balance and reshuffle the deck. 

  • If you find you’re spending too much time caring for your house (without getting an equal dose of pleasure in return) consider downsizing.
  • If your commute is taking too long, think about getting a job closer to home or telecommute for at least one day.
  • Limit extracurricular activities for you and your children. Examine each carefully and do only those that have significant value.
  • Chasing the almighty dollar takes a lot of our time. Are you living in a high-cost area? Could you stretch your money more in another location? 

Here are specific and fairly simple suggestions for slowing things down:

  • Build “do-nothing” time into your life. You don’t have to be productive every single minute to justify your life. Make sure you have at least one hour of completely unstructured time each day. Tell yourself: “I’ve been constructive enough today; it’s time to do nothing.” 
  • Stop buying so many things, especially items that require constant maintenance (clothes that need to be dry cleaned and items that need to be polished, dusted or tuned-up). Rent, instead of purchasing, time and money pits such as boats and second homes.
  • Give others space. Your children do not need you to show up for every single game and practice. Your child needs breathing space to make mistakes, to fail, to learn, to have fun without the pressure of a constant audience. Support your child, but don’t smother him. 
  • Limit how often you check emails and surf websites
  • Don’t be a perfectionist
  • Practice saying no. Don’t answer the phone if you don’t want to. Delete junk emails without reading them. Send junk snail mail to the recycling bin without even opening it. 
By Amy Fries
Source: Families and Work Institute, www.familiesandwork.org

Summary

  • Overscheduling can lead to harm.
  • Connect to the moment—take delight in everyday life.
  • Build “do-nothing” time into your life.

We are a nation on the go. Maybe it’s our work-ethic roots or our rock-solid belief in pursuing the American dream. Either way, many of us risk perpetual burnout. Study after study declares that Americans work longer hours and vacation less than our counterparts around the globe.

But businesses aren’t benefiting from overscheduling either. Stressed-out employees often cost the company in mistakes, stifled creativity, and time lost to stress-related illnesses. 

And it’s not just work. We overschedule our personal lives too. We relocate and remodel our homes more than our parents’ generation ever did. We spend more money. We have more toys—more of those “time-saving” electronic devices that require time and attention. Even our kids have schedules filled with play dates, parties, and multiple extracurricular activities. 

Experts have documented that overscheduling leads to:

  • Stress, a frequent culprit in overeating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Substance use disorder
  • Injuries at home, work, and on the road
  • Illnesses ranging from heart disease to immune disorders 

In addition, a hurried life means less time or no time to:

  • Nurture your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self
  • Nurture relationships 
  • Give to the community—we don’t have time to volunteer, to interact with neighbors, to recycle, to vote, to think about the future 

Time to wander and wonder

The mind needs unscheduled time to explore and to be creative. When we slow down our minds start to wander, and such wanderings often lead to personal insights and to ideas that wouldn’t come to us while we’re rushing around or preoccupied with a things-to-do list. Some psychologists will even tell you that all creativity springs from a mind free to daydream. Artists, entrepreneurs, and scientists all rely on such moments for inspiration. 

Appreciate what you have

Instead of striving all the time and thinking about the next thing you need to buy, fix, or do, stop and appreciate what you have and what you’ve accomplished. Parents, for example, are often so focused on where their child is heading—what college, what job—that they forget to appreciate the precious moments of childhood. We work hard for our money and our homes, but do we truly stop, relax and appreciate what we have accomplished? Or, are we planning our next move? Joy often comes from the ability to connect to the moment—to take delight in everyday life.

How to simplify

Overscheduling is a hard habit to break. It becomes an unconscious lifestyle choice. We become addicted to the chaos and constant activity. Some would even argue that we avoid facing the problems in our life by staying constantly busy.

But we can all learn to slow down and build breathing space into our lives.

First, take stock of your life. Write down how much time you spend on the following categories: relationships, work, money, health, recreation, and spirituality. See where it’s out of balance and reshuffle the deck. 

  • If you find you’re spending too much time caring for your house (without getting an equal dose of pleasure in return) consider downsizing.
  • If your commute is taking too long, think about getting a job closer to home or telecommute for at least one day.
  • Limit extracurricular activities for you and your children. Examine each carefully and do only those that have significant value.
  • Chasing the almighty dollar takes a lot of our time. Are you living in a high-cost area? Could you stretch your money more in another location? 

Here are specific and fairly simple suggestions for slowing things down:

  • Build “do-nothing” time into your life. You don’t have to be productive every single minute to justify your life. Make sure you have at least one hour of completely unstructured time each day. Tell yourself: “I’ve been constructive enough today; it’s time to do nothing.” 
  • Stop buying so many things, especially items that require constant maintenance (clothes that need to be dry cleaned and items that need to be polished, dusted or tuned-up). Rent, instead of purchasing, time and money pits such as boats and second homes.
  • Give others space. Your children do not need you to show up for every single game and practice. Your child needs breathing space to make mistakes, to fail, to learn, to have fun without the pressure of a constant audience. Support your child, but don’t smother him. 
  • Limit how often you check emails and surf websites
  • Don’t be a perfectionist
  • Practice saying no. Don’t answer the phone if you don’t want to. Delete junk emails without reading them. Send junk snail mail to the recycling bin without even opening it. 
By Amy Fries
Source: Families and Work Institute, www.familiesandwork.org

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