You don't know how to say "no," and that could become a problem for your mental health, if it's not already. You rarely have time for yourself, and although you're constantly on the run, you often feel as if you're not accomplishing the things you want to do. You're never quite sure where the time has gone.
"Too many people just go on autopilot, whizzing along at 90 miles an hour, and they're not paying attention to whether or not they're getting everything they want in life," says Ramona Creel, founder of OnlineOrganizing.com. "You need to slow down."
Creel says people should look at their lives. Imagine you've died, she says, and you're listening to what everybody had to say about you at your funeral. Are they saying things you want to hear, such as, "She made time for her kids," and, "She had time for her community." Or will they say, "She always worked late at the office or she really had no hobbies or things she loved to do."
"People talk a good game and say family is important, or personal growth is important, or other things," says Creel. "But they don't spend their time doing the things that are most important. They piddle time away."
Creel says time management is key, and you have to get your time in alignment with your values.
Patricia Sprinkle, author of Women Who Do Too Much (Zondervan Publishing, 2002), agrees.
"Most stress for women comes not because we're doing too much but because we're doing too much of what we don't want to do," Sprinkle says.
To better manage your time, Sprinkle suggests you make a list of the things that are overwhelming you. Then categorize them into the things you can drop, delay or delegate.
- Drop: It's okay, and even healthy, to say "no" to volunteer projects if they overwhelm you or to an inordinate number of social engagements. Cut back on some activities.
- Delay: Especially for moms of small children, there are certain things that can be really tough to accomplish, such as going back to school. If you can wait until your kids are in school full-time, it will be a lot less stressful because you'll have more time to yourself.
- Delegate: Women often think, "If I don't do it, no one else will," or "It won't get done right if I don't do it myself." But you have to delegate some things -- and let some things go -- if you want to give yourself a break. You may be surprised to find the people to whom you delegate do a good job!
Sprinkle also says women have to figure out what gives them joy, and they have to schedule that into their lives.
"What is the thing that energizes you?" she says. "Some things we do put energy into us, and some things take energy out. We have to find a balance. You can accomplish more of the things that energize you than the things that drain you."
And you'll be doing other people a favor if you learn how to say "no."
"If you're overloaded and you tell someone 'yes,' you're not going to do a good job," Sprinkle says, or you may do a great job but at the expense of sleep, a good mood or time with your family. "You're being respectful by saying no because you know you're not going to do a good job. You can tell people they'll be better off finding someone who can devote more time and do the job right."