Stop Over-Scheduling! How to Take Back Your Time

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TimeBusy lives lead to full schedules, and while this can be satisfying, there’s a very thin line between being booked and overbooked. Unfortunately, the cost of being over-scheduled is not so minor.

If you find yourself jumping from one appointment or task to the next, and continuously falling short in meeting all of your responsibilities, you may be in the danger zone. Some of the consequences you may experience include:

  • Missed deadlines
  • Damaged client relationships
  • Lost work
  • Burnout
  • Lack of balance
  • Feelings of frustration
  • Injured reputation
  • Misplaced priorities
  • Increased stress
  • Inability to get caught up

If you’ve ever experienced the lack of control that comes with being over-scheduled, you know how difficult it can be to manage and get yourself out of the cycle. But it is possible to take back your schedule. Here’s how.

Pad Your Calendar

If you have a lot of appointments or tend to schedule individual tasks each day, one cause of your overfull schedule may be as simple as not allowing enough time for each meeting or task. Start giving yourself extra time to account for meetings that run over and tasks that take longer than expected. This way, you have some flexibility and can avoid running late for everything else you have planned that day. Plus, you may find that you end up with some extra time between meetings to take a breath and regroup – something we all need to do during the day.

Prioritize Everything

If I’m not giving it conscious thought, I tend to treat everything that comes across my path as a priority. So, it takes some effort on my part to realistically prioritize and plan my time. Without this prioritization step, you will most likely hit over-scheduled status quickly. Assigning a priority to work items is vital, but you should do the same for all personal tasks and other responsibilities you have to make sure you’re focusing on the most important things in your life in a balanced way.

Start to Outsource

If you simply have more work than you can handle, it may be time to outsource. Although it can take time to build a team of qualified and trusted subcontractors, and to train yourself to delegate, once you are able to do this successfully, you will not only have more time but you may also find that you can grow your business beyond what you anticipated.

Say No

If all else fails and you’re still overbooked and overstressed, consider turning away non-ideal work or personal requests. Sometimes, something has to give. It’s hard to say no, especially to incoming work, but if it’s not supporting your business goals and overall sanity, passing now may be better for you in the long run.

How do you handle being over-scheduled? Have you ever had to scale back?

Image credit: Nick Colomb

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
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Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

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