Time confetti. Isn’t that a wonderful way to describe the feeling of never having enough time to do anything? The only free time you have comes in tiny bits and pieces spread throughout your day. Hardly enough time to catch your breath; certainly not enough to consider it leisure time. Washington Post journalist Brigid Shulte writes about time confetti in her book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time.
She explores the factors contributing to the overwhelm that so many of us, especially women, are experiencing. Among them are expectations that we be the ideal worker available 24/7 and also engage in intensive parenting. And that we do so with no help from workplaces that remain inflexible or government that provides neither parental leave, nor paid sick leave, nor child care.
So what are some solutions that can lessen the feeling of constant time pressure?
- Become clear about your priorities. Once you have decided what is most important, then schedule those things on your calendar first and feel no obligation to do anything else. You must learn to say no.
- Set realistic expectations. You aren’t perfect and you can’t do it all. Do what matters most. That is enough. You are enough.
- Take breaks. You will have the energy to get more done in less time if you alternate between periods of intense work and time for rest and renewal. Ideally you should work for no more than 90 minutes without taking a break.
- Chunk tasks. Constant switching back and forth really increases your sense of time pressure. Stop multitasking. Check email in batches. Schedule chunks of time for work, family, and play.
- Be more mindful of what is happening right now. Mindfulness reduces contaminated time, which occurs when you are constantly thinking about all you need to do. When you have too much on your mind do a brain dump. Write everything down on a piece of paper so you can stop worrying that you will forget it. Now you can forget it. I mean it! Stop thinking about it!
What about you? What do you do to manage the overwhelm? Please let us know!