Over-Committed? Start By Determining What’s Essential.


Are you unable to get everything you want accomplished because you’ve over-committed? Are electronic devices constantly distracting you? Are you having a hard time deciding what’s essential?

The idea of Overload Syndrome came into view while reading the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and a recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Christopher Mims Say No to the Distraction-Industrial Complex. Greg McKeown writes about the need to discern what’s essential and what’s not. Christopher Mims notes that constant interruptions are devastating to one’s productivity.

Today there are few boundaries. You’re tethered to a phone, tablet and computer. They serve as a constant source of distraction. This omnipresent connectivity means you’re inundated with information and interruptions that sap your energy and waste your time.

Reflecting on the past few years, I’ve been paring down the number of commitments I make. Not because I don’t want to do them or I’m not interested but because I can’t do them all. From a career perspective, I want to focus my effort against the opportunities I’m most excited about. On a personal front, I want to ensure that when I’m with others I’m present. When I’m overloaded it’s hard for me to stay engaged. My mind begins to wander or I become paralyzed into inaction as I face all the obligations I’ve made and the items on my to-do list.

Now, I turn away projects that I feel aren’t supporting my business goals and invitations when I’m over scheduled. It’s tough for me to say “no” because I don’t want to miss out. However, by doing so, I’m getting more done and feeling more accomplished.

When I’m working with clients, I stress the need for gaining clarity around what’s most important in your life, what you have to let go of and taking small actions to start moving toward your goals. This means actively managing your device usage and protecting your time from unnecessary distractions. The more intentional you are with how you want to be living your life the more you’ll be living it.