5 Signs Your Schedule is Too Full

posted by Andrea | 05/6/2016
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Since I regularly blog about time management, productivity, and “doing it now”, I am often asked the question:

How Much Is Too Much?

The questions are referring to having an overly-busy schedule and too many to-dos.

As I’ve mentioned before, a person’s energy level plays a HUGE factor into how much they can realistically accomplish in a day, a week, or a month — and energy level is affected by SO many factors.

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Personality type
  • Level of motivation and self-motivation
  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Emotional Health
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Water consumption
  • Exercise regimen
  • Sleep quality
  • Sleep quantity (we all need different quantities of sleep)
  • Physical limitations or ailments
  • Career (are you on your feet all day versus sitting at a desk?)
  • Family structure (are you caring for elderly parents or small children all day?)
  • Help and support from others
  • The ability to handle stress and work under pressure
  • Weather conditions and daily sunlight (yes, it’s true!)

Based on all those variables, it would be nearly impossible for me to suggest the number of tasks someone could or should accomplish in a given time period — or the number of tasks that is “too much”.

However, I do think it’s possible to gauge whether YOUR OWN schedule is too full right now based on a few tell-tale signs of overly-busy people.

If you find yourself nodding and saying “yes” to any of the following… your schedule might be too full!

schedule is too full

1. You are angry and frustrated a lot.

One thing I’ve noticed about myself over and over and OVER again is that I quickly become frustrated or angry if I feel like I’m running late or that something (or someone) is going to make me late.

Friends and family joke about how much I stay home, but that’s because I often feel too frazzled if we need to be on a strict time schedule, so I’d rather just be home, relaxed, and not barking at the kids to “hurry up” all day long.

If we need to get out, I often get angry or frustrated with one of the kids — Simon needs to put his own shoes on (which takes FOREVER), Nora decides that she really DOES need to go to the bathroom (even though she assured me she didn’t 3 minutes ago), James poops all over his clothes requiring a full outfit change — you get the idea!

When we do have something with a specific arrival time, I usually plan to be there 20 minutes early and then take activities along (or watch a movie in the car) if we arrive early.

Oh, and if you really want to see me get worked up, put me smack in the middle of a traffic jam or make me wait in an extra long line when I’m already running slightly behind schedule — it ain’t pretty my friends!

Now obviously, I don’t feel angry and frustrated all the time — but whenever I do feel angry or frustrated, it is almost always because we have a full day and my to-do list is potentially too long.

Can you relate?

2. You regularly forget things.

It is VERY rare for me to forget anything… ever! I write everything down, I have a good memory, I put reminders and alarms in place, I follow my lists, and I plan ahead.

However, I do know that forgetfulness is one of the first “warning signs” when I have too much on my plate or when I’m trying to move too quickly.

At this point in my life, I am quite tired due to James’ less-than-ideal nighttime sleeping, so forgetfulness can also be attributed to lack of sleep for me!

If you have been very forgetful lately, I would consider looking over your current schedule and evaluating whether it’s just too full, if you have too many things going on right now, or maybe you’re just tired like me!

3. You are easily overwhelmed, even by small tasks.

In general, I am not the type of person who is easily overwhelmed by big projects and goals, long to-do lists, or long-term projects — and I’m certainly not overwhelmed by smaller household chores, running errands, plowing through my daily to-do’s, etc.

I’m good at breaking big projects down into bite-size chunks and plugging away until my list is crossed off. I am very self-motivated and usually “hit the ground running” when I wake up in the morning (even if I am still tired).

But when my schedule is too full, it’s not uncommon for me to all-of-a-sudden feel totally overwhelmed with something ridiculous like doing laundry, washing dishes, or writing a blog post (even for someone with my Type-A, do-it-now personality!)

Dave is really good at interjecting his common-sense into these situations and reminding me to just do the first thing and then the next. It’s still crazy how overwhelmed I can feel IF my schedule it too full — doing activities that wouldn’t ever phase me under normal circumstances!

Feeling overwhelmed can be the result of many other factors, but it usually shows up when you’re too busy — so make sure you take a step back to evaluate your schedule if you’ve been regularly feeling overwhelmed (especially if you’re overwhelmed with small, easy tasks).

4. You are tired, but can’t sleep or even rest.

Lately, Dave and I have both been guilty of going to bed quite late and waking up quite early — however, when we go to bed, we are both easily sleeping within 5 minutes. And besides the fact that our children regularly wake us up, we can easily sleep soundly all night (and we both fall back asleep after our kids do wake us up.)

If you are constantly tired but find it very difficult to sleep at night (or even just rest during the day) you might have too much going on. Your brain has too many things floating around up there and you can’t shut it off to sleep or rest — this is a very common sign of being too busy.

I have no perfect solution or quick fix for this, but I do know that over time, lack of sleep can have very serious consequences on our health, so if you’ve had trouble sleeping, it might be worth cutting back in a few other areas of your life to make more time for rest.

5. You feel guilty doing anything for yourself.

Do you feel guilty doing something nice for yourself, spending time on yourself, or devoting extra energy to something just for you?

If so, your schedule is most likely too full right now!

I can think of many times in my life when I have felt guilty for doing something nice for myself — because after all, it wasn’t completely necessary and I could have been using that time and energy to “get something done”.

Although I am definitely in the season of life where I spend significantly more time caring for the needs of others, I do still try to take a tiny amount of time just for me — even if that means watching a show on Netflix, going for a walk after the kids are in bed, taking an extra long shower, or getting groceries all on my own 🙂

I’m certainly not suggesting we must all spend hours and hours every day pampering ourselves, but I do know there are plenty of little, non-extravagant ways I can “treat” myself each day — and they make a big difference in my overall happiness and outlook on life.

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These certainly are not the only signs that your schedule might be too full, nor do they necessarily always imply that your schedule is too full — but they are a good place to start.

Also, it’s worth noting that sometimes there are just certain days of the week or even certain times of the day when you feel frustrated, forgetful, overwhelmed, tired, or guilty. If you find that it’s only during specific time periods, a small tweak in your schedule might be all it takes to experience a positive change.

However, if you have been consistently feeling frustrated, forgetful, overwhelmed, tired, or guilty for an extended period of time, it’s probably time to make some major life changes to prevent more extreme consequences down the road (burnout, health issues, depression, etc.)

So what should you do?

I’m certainly not an expert, but whenever I start feeling like my life is just way too full, I do the 5 things listed below.

1. Acknowledge and admit — I know it sounds too simple, but until you’re ready to actually admit that you are too busy, nothing is going to change.

2. Start saying no — do not agree to any new activities or obligations until your schedule clears up a bit.

3. Reduce your tasks — not necessarily all at once, but put a plan in place to do less.

4. Seek help — either from friends or family helping you with your tasks, or by going to counseling.

5. Closely monitor your activities and your energy level — as you go about your day, take note of when you’re feeling overly frustrated, forgetful, overwhelmed, tired, or guilty. Then look at your schedule and see if you can tweak it to reduce how quickly or how frequently you have those feelings.

There really is no “quick fix” for an overly-full schedule, but I can write from experience that “downsizing” your to-do list can have an amazingly positive effect on your job, your health, your family’s life, and pretty much every other aspect of your life.

Have you recently simplified your schedule? What did you do?

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Leave a comment

18 comments

  1. Beatriz

    05/09/2016

    Great post!

    [Reply]

  2. Alicia @ Turquoise Grace

    05/06/2016

    My top two points that I’ve got too much on my plate? Forgetfulness (which, unfortunately, seems like maybe my new normal lately), and becoming frustrated. If either of these things are happening I need to reassess my stuff!

    [Reply]

  3. Jennifer

    05/06/2016

    Great points. Forgetfulness is my biggest sign that I’m taking on too much, and it’s my biggest motivator to cut back. When I forget something my husband asked of me I am especially disappointed in myself because I let something slip that was more important than almost everything I did accomplish. I want to be dependable to him first and foremost, so time to back off some other things. I also like to stay home a lot. I only have one son and only work 2-3 days per week, and all those time-to-leave-setbacks drive me crazy! We invite people over a lot.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    For me, forgetfulness usually indicates that I’m tired… but one of the reasons I’m usually tired is because I’ve been up late working on something (and of course, children wake me up at all hours of the night!)

    [Reply]

  4. Melinda

    05/06/2016

    Dear Andrea,

    thank you for this post, exactly how I felt this morning. Our son is 18 months, I am expecting our second baby, and I’ve had too much work at home.
    So I’m going to take some time off just for myself, it’s just too difficult for me to ask for help.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    congrats on baby #2! And yes, definitely take a little time for yourself before the next one comes along.

    [Reply]

  5. Janice

    05/06/2016

    I love your entire perspective on life. Are you sure I can’t adopt you?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — you can adopt my children a few afternoons a week 🙂

    [Reply]

  6. Pascale

    05/06/2016

    Hello Andrea,
    I totally agree with your post, but the reason I”m writing today is to thank you for posting every weekday and for always having a positive attitude.
    I moved to Michigan in October 2014 and I’ve been at home for over 10 years because of chronic health issues.
    Your blog makes me feel good and I read it every weekday. Why? Because you offer practical solutions, you don’t whine and complain or talk about all the negatives, you have a common sense approach and although I don’t have children I glean a lot from your posts.
    THank you for putting aray of sunshine in my day. I truly appreciate it.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Well thanks so much Pascale! Have a great weekend!

    [Reply]

  7. Heidi

    05/06/2016

    My issue is always how to get rid of those extra things on your schedule. For us, so many of them are work related- we both teach full time and my husband coaches two sports. Add in kid’s activities (which we try to keep to a minimum) and life gets way too full really fast!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Well, at the risk of sounds super obvious — just quit some of them! Dave used to coach THREE sports for school and he quit when we started having kids because he was too busy. Yes, he enjoyed coaching, yes, I enjoyed going to the games, but it was just too much. Eventually when our kids are older, I’m sure he’ll get back to coaching again — but not now!

    [Reply]

    Beidi Reply:

    In our district, coaching can be indirectly tied to your teaching contract. Makes it quite a bit harder to quit- which is a bummer. 🙁

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh shoot — so my overly-obvious suggestion was TOO obvious 🙂 Bummer is right!

    [Reply]

  8. Christine @ The Mostly Simple Life

    05/06/2016

    O, those first three described me so well 🙂 I can’t stand being late and I hardly ever forget things. And when I’m super stressed, the dirty dishes look like a mountain. In the last few weeks We’ve had to make some changes to my schedule because things were getting out of hand. I’m not all that busy compared to other people. But it was too much for me. I don’t like being a grumpy, overwhelmed person!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    the dishes always get me too (or the dishwasher) and then I remind myself that it only takes a few minutes to do. Also, Dave is REALLY good about doing the dishes for me 🙂

    [Reply]

  9. Katie

    05/06/2016

    Yes to all 5 points! It’s tough when your kids get into all day school. I feel like we are so busy all the time but we don’t do anything extra! My oldest 2 are in school and my youngest is in daycare/preschool 2 days a week. I work part time. It feels like we are always rushing. As the school year winds down, I do feel like I’ve learned a lot this year. Mainly not to feel bad if I can’t accomplish anymore than just school, work, feeding the family, laundry and cleaning (somewhat). 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I smiled when you said “JUST school, work, feeding, laundry, and cleaning” — that’s already a lot! You definitely shouldn’t feel bad!

    [Reply]