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Are You Too Often Over-Committed?

Many of us are… just simply over-committed.

Although there are many deep and interesting reasons that people choose to take on too much, they generally tend to fall into one of three categories: poor time management, the fear of saying "no" to others, and a tendency towards control or perfectionism.

Beating the over-commitment battle is a lot easier when you have the right tools and habits on your side. Here are eight simple but effective ones to help you get started:

1. Use a calendar and time-management planning tool.
If you're working in the 21st century, this step isn't optional. You can't manage your time and commitments until you have a clear idea of what they look like.

2. Make sure to add family and personal commitments to your calendar.
What isn't scheduled tends to get ignored, and taking care of yourself (and your loved ones) is every bit as important as your work.

3. Commit to the 30-second, 30-minute, and 30-hour rule.
Learn not to respond to requests right away. Instead, give yourself 30 seconds, minutes, or hours to think about what's involved and how it would impact your other commitments (depending on the size and complexity of the project) before you make a decision.

4. Make clarity a priority.
When facing a new project or opportunity, ask about the responsibilities and time commitments involved. Try to avoid new projects that seem open-ended, without a clear goal, objective, or timeline.

5. Get better at self-assessing.
A part of any time-management program is breaking old habits. The more time you spend thinking about mistakes you’ve made in the past (and especially when, where, and how you've made decisions that have led to over-commitment), the less likely you are to repeat them.

6. Create good boundaries.
Certain times on your schedules should be completely off-limits, and some activities should never be moved or renegotiated. Know where your boundaries are and keep to them – others will learn to adjust over time.

7. Remember that "no" and "not now" are perfectly good answers.
If you aren't used to turning people down, it can be hard. Don't be afraid to try it out: Turning down projects is a good way to decrease your stress, do better work on your existing projects, and show others that you can manage your time. It can also be great for your health and personal relationships.

8. Ask yourself the three questions that matter.
Do you have time for this new project or task? Do you have the desire to do it? And, does it fit into your current goals or responsibilities? If the answer to any of these questions is "no," then politely decline and move on.

Freeing your calendar from some of the dead weight that's holding you back allows you to concentrate more fully on what matters, which is really the biggest key to time management and productivity. If you find that you have too much to do, now is the perfect time to break some bad habits.

-- Kimberly Medlock 

Kimberly Medlock is a common sense productivity expert, helping organizations across North America get better results quicker and easier, with less time, energy and hassle.  If you would like to know more about increasing your productivity, contact her at 662-893-7933 or

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