If you’re an enthusiastic person like me, new activities can easily sneak into your day. You might think this opportunity is just too good to pass up or tell yourself it won’t take much time. Or you might be called to take on an important responsibility like caring for ill or aging parents.
But instead of subtracting another activity in order to stay in balance, you just pile on new ones, which naturally leads to tension, overload, and overwhelm.
You might be able to juggle all the balls at first. But, then that feeling of dread or overwhelm kicks in. That’s a sure sign it’s time to subtract, or you’ll just get pulled further and further down.
About a month ago, I started a Tai Chi class. Without thinking about it much, I added 6 hours a week of class time and another 3 hours for the commute. That’s an entire workday plus drive time for many people. It’s the amount of time I often spend on writing and promoting my blog post each week, plus taking care of related blog business.
During the first half of the year, I also began offering free weekly stress relief tips, and recently I increased my presence on the Always Well Within Facebook page. Of course, I love sharing and inspiring others in these ways. But it's another example of adding without anticipating the full impact.
Fortunately, I’ve already been subtracting. Still, I found myself begrudgingly working on Saturday mornings to catch up. This prompted me to reassess and subtract more before I'm engulfed by overwhelm.
Is "Too Much" Overwhelming You?
Have your quietly added on more and more in the first half of the year without realizing it? This is a good time - at mid-year - to take a look and tease out any extras that invisibly locked onto your daily life.
Use these questions and exercises to check in and see if “too much” might also be overwhelming you:
- Do you feel stressed and overwhelmed or do you feel at ease?
- Ask your heart, “Is this how I really want my life to look?”
- Consider, “Am I wasting time on the unimportant and trivial?” Make a list of these busy-bee tasks.
- How are you really spending your time? Use my free 7-day time tracking chart to find out.
- Mull this over, “Am I keeping busy to avoid facing deeper feelings of unhappiness or unrest?”
- Make a list of what makes you happy, the good in your life. Then make a list of what makes you unhappy, the bad in your life.
Use your answers and the lists you’ve made to make a subtraction list. Then go for peace by removing one item at a time from your plate. When that’s complete, take some breathing space. Then move on to subtracting the next activity on the list.
I know, it’s not necessarily easy to say no and let go. You may not want to disappoint others or you may have a perfectionistic streak. But in the end, there’s only 167 hours in a week. If you aren’t true to yourself, you’ll run yourself into the ground and put your health at risk.
Subtraction Is the Path to Ease
Gather the courage to let go of doing too much. When you make smart subtractions, you’ll find:
- Time for what really matters and thus a more meaningful life.
- More ease and more enjoyment as you allow yourself to slow down.
- Space for more love and connection with those close to you.
- Less strain on your health.
- More clarity of mind.
Decide right now you’re worth it and start on your subtraction list.
I’ve made a major time commitment to my Tai Chi class. I know it’s exactly what I need - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually - and worth every minute I spend on learning the movements and the philosophy behind them. But 9 hours is a lot! I needed to take stock and trim away the unnecessary and unimportant so I could regain balance in my life.
Are you doing too much? What’s one thing you could subtract for a start?
P.S. I'm posting every other Sunday over the summer so I'll see you again in two weeks.
Join me for daily inspiration on the Always Well Within Facebook Page. Sign up for free blog posts by email. And, if you have a moment, please share this article and make a difference in someone’s life. Thank you! May you be well, happy, and safe - always. With love, Sandra