Too much to do? How to cut back without feeling guilty.

Jun 18, 2019

Do you try to do everything but end up feeling stressed with half-arsed results?

We often do things because we feel they are expected of us, we don’t want to let people down. Or we haven’t taken the time to work out if it’s really needed so we’re just auto-piloting down an ever-growing list. Possibly we don’t know how /who to ask for help. We can stretch our mental and physical ability and capacity to keep up, … but only so much.

This leads to a life that feels over-complicated, overwhelming, and exhausting because we do too much, don’t draw boundaries, and try to be super-human. We end up producing work or relationships which don’t meet our own standards and don’t take us towards our longer-term goals – which only adds to the feelings of stress and overwhelm. 

Its not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” — Bruce Lee

Sometimes it is really good to cut back on how much we do and focus on the quality of the important things.  But knowing what to cut and not feeling guilty for doing it can bring its own stresses.

How to trim down your to-do list without feeling guilty
  1. Regularly remind yourself of your longer-term goals, what your values are and what is really important to you – promotion, growing business with a particular client, a relationship, physical and mental well-being, learning new things, being a role-model, being part of something bigger than just you…
  2. Set your focus for the day first thing in the morning (before you look at your email with everyone else’s demands/agenda for your day). Clearly identify 3 things you want to achieve for the day … that really will make you feel proud, happy, healthy, like you are moving forward…. that take you towards to goals and values you identified above.

You can use simple notepad or grab my form which I made for my client by clicking the button below 

  1. Make it ok to choose NOT to do some things. Experiment with a few questions as “must do” things come up during the day that will make your efforts conscious choices not default actions.
    “by saying no to this, what am I giving myself space to say Yes to”?,   “If I knew I could only do half the things on my list this week, what would I choose to do?”,   “Will it really matter tonight, in a week or a year if I haven’t done this?”
  2. Start by saying “NO” to small things. Declining things if you are a “pleaser” or don’t usually do it can be hard. It may sound obvious, but practice explicitly saying the word “no” in your responses.
  3. Recognise the benefits of eliminating the unessential. Make a note (mental or literal) of the progress you make because you allowed yourself to have space and time to focus, rejuvenate, and grow. Your brain will start to associate this with reward rather guilt and reduce its search for a reward through busyness or other people’s praise/thanks.



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