You Don’t Have To Do It All

Taking a step back does not mean you will fail… it means you are giving yourself a little room to truly live.

This post comes from our blog intern, Natalie.

How many times is a friendly “how are you?” responded to with a sigh and answer of  busy, swamped or tired. How many times have you responded that way? If I am honest, far too many.

I like to be busy. I crave it, in fact. I enjoy making my mile long to-do list and blissfully checking off each item as I put myself to work. Yet at what point does it become too much? I have been thinking a lot lately about the reality that we only have one life to live. We have the ability to craft and mold it in any way we like, under our individual circumstances. So, is this really how I want to spend it?

So I would like to introduce an idea to all of you. You don’t have to do it all. Taking a step back does not mean you will fail, it means you are giving yourself a little room to truly live. I believe you can be a go-getter without sacrificing your sanity. Time is precious, so why not live it to the fullest, rather than being occupied by a perpetual state of stress and business.

How can you be successful, and still respect your overall wellbeing? I  have asked myself the same question, and for the past year, yet it ‘s been something I have been actively pursuing. Trust me, I have a long way to go, but below are some tips I have picked up along the way.

Redefine success — I think this is one of the most important aspects of working towards a healthier relationship with your workload. The concept of success is completely ambiguous, so why not make it achievable? Define success in a way that makes sense for you, and allows you to feel victories often. Right now, success for me is balance. I feel success when I feel that I am working hard, yet allowing just as much time to spend doing things purely for the purpose of enjoyment.

Set aside time for self care — This may seem obvious, but when you feel like you have too much on your plate, this is often the first thing to go. If daily to-do lists are your BFF, then always leave a line for something that will make you feel good. Whether it is an evening walk on the beach, a massage or dinner out with friends, do whatever feels right to you. The best part? You still get the gratifying feeling of checking something off your list!

Prioritize — Is your stack of tasks for the day starting to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Maybe it’s time to step back and look at the big picture. Figure out what needs to get done that day, what can get pushed to a later date, and what can be let go of completely. Challenge yourself to make these lists as equal as possible, and not shy away from adding to the latter two options.  

Learn when to say “no” — There is nothing wrong with saying “yes”, when the task is feasible. I’ve gotten myself in one too many predicaments from being to yielding with my yes responses. In fact, for a long time I never even considered a response of “no.” More recently, while working towards an overall balance, I have found that learning to saying no to things is an essential part of the process. Allow yourself to be thoughtful with your responses to others, rather than jumping straight to a “yes” answer. If you find this difficult, start small by implementing this mentality with smaller tasks and requests. Over time, it will become more natural.

Use affirmations -_ Often a desire to be constantly busy is used as a mean of combating negative thoughts and fears. Affirmations, or specific positive “I” statements you repeat to yourself, can be helpful for getting to the root of this problem. They are a way to take a thought that may be weighing you down and reframing it in a way that releases its detrimental grip. Whether your write them down in a journal or say them aloud, think about what statements you need hear on a daily basis. At first it may feel odd or uncomfortable but, over time, affimations have proven to have a incredible impact.  

Shut it off — I don’t know about you, but neither emails or Instagram have ever had a positive impact on reducing my stress levels. Try simply shutting your phone or laptop off, if only for a little while, and focus on the present moment. This will help you get the most out of the time you spend just being, not doing.   

+ Have any tips to add to the list? I would love to hear them in the comments! 

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