What To Do When You’ve Overcommitted Your Schedule

You’ve been there before, right?

You have a new idea for a project, and you add it to the list.

Someone asks you to participate in an event, and you say yes.

A few unexpected curveballs happen at work, and you take them on.

Suddenly, your once manageable schedule now demands more time than you have hours in the day.

In short, you’ve overcommitted yourself.

Let me first normalize this situation; as ADHD brains, this happens, even when we have the best of intentions.

And while it can feel challenging to navigate the many demands on our time, it’s possible…

We may have to prioritize our time differently and make some hard decisions, but it’s possible.

In episode 183 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, I share a recent experience where I overcommitted myself, and the three things I did to make it through to the other side.

Tune in now, so you can add these strategies to your toolkit just in case you find yourself similarly stretched thin.

You can listen to the episode above or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here.   

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript. 

In This Episode, You Will Discover

  • How to recognize when you’ve overcommitted yourself
  • How to prioritize your time and energy
  • Three ways to make it to the other side while feeling proud of yourself in the process

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Episode #183: What To Do When You’ve Overcommitted Your Schedule (Transcript) 

How To Avoid Taking On Too Much

This past December and January, I decided to revamp and update the content for my small group coaching program, We’re Busy Being Awesome.

After bringing so many incredible clients through the group over the last year, I’ve developed new analogies to explain core concepts. I found ways to simplify things even more. And I’ve developed a few more concepts and frameworks, which I am so excited about.

As I developed these new analogies, concepts, and frameworks, I realized that I didn’t want just to share them in our calls each time; I wanted to weave them into the program content.

This meant…

  • Recording and editing new trainings, and getting them up in the client portal
  • Updating the private podcast where I store all the trainings for my clients to learn on the go
  • I completely overhauled the program workbook, which I’m really happy about because I think it helps break down the concepts and makes implementation easier for different learning styles. I mean, it was a lot of shifts and developments, which is awesome.

Now, I know I don’t usually talk a lot about behind-the-scenes stuff on the podcast – I typically keep the focus on everything else. But as you’ll soon hear – it’s going to inform the topic of this podcast today a lot.

But also, I’m feeling really proud of this new work. I am so excited to share it with the next We’re Busy Being Awesome cohort in February and see them implement the tools and learn how to design the approaches that work best for their brains to get things done.

(And, of course, to those of you busy awesome humans who have been in We’re Busy Being Awesome already, you will have access to the updated content in the client portal as well once it goes live in February. So be on the lookout for that.)

Underestimating The Time Needed To Complete A Task

So despite feeling super excited about sharing this work and knowing that it’s going to make a big difference for so many future ADHD brains as they learn to release their perfectionism and step out of the neurotypical box to get things done their way, I grossly underestimated how much time I needed to complete the work.

I genuinely thought I was giving myself plenty of time with a two-month window of December and January. When I broke down the plan, everything laid out nicely. In fact, I even had an extra week of wiggle room left over.

But then, as I begin implementing the plan, new, unexpected obstacles popped up.

Obstacles popped up in terms of:

  • Things taking longer than I anticipated
  • Holidays, travel, and other personal projects like preparing for a move.

Plus, there were some changing deadlines and events for events I was involved in outside of my business.

Before I knew it, the generous amount of space I originally anticipated quickly began shrinking to about 6 to 7 Mondays, which are also technically podcast day. And this is because the remainder of my hours during the work week are largely accounted for between my group calls and my private clients.

All that to say… I over-committed myself

woman looking stressed

I added a few too many things to my plate, but I only realized it after the wheels were in motion. And I KNOW I’m not alone here. I know that I’m not the only one who deals with this.

You think you can get it all done. You even slow down and map things out. But then – for one reason or another – that carefully curated plan shifts, and things aren’t lining up anymore.

So when I realized things weren’t lining up, I knew something would have to give.

My clearly laid out plan was not an accurate portrayal of the time I actually had, so I had to make some adjustments.

This is the first step that needs to happen when we realize we’ve overcommitted, right?

We need to come to terms with the fact that we don’t have the hours we need and then decide how we can pivot. Of course, there are many ways we can pivot, which will largely vary depending on the situation at hand. But in my current circumstance, I started looking at my time budget and where I was allocating my time.

I began by identifying my non-negotiables first.

In this case, it was showing up fully for my clients; this one will not give. It was also creating and producing this podcast for all of you each week. I also knew I wanted to make these updates happen. I didn’t want to let any of that go.

I was Also honest with myself…

I had to check in on what were perfectionist ideals and what were things that would actually support my client’s success?

Having some kind of decision filter like this whenever you need to pivot or cut back is really important.

What are the things that will move the needle the most?

So I used this question about what will impact my client’s success as my decision filter to help me work through my list of updates.

And after doing this, it helped me realize that not EVERYTHING is weighted equally, which is what our brains always want us to believe, right? But it’s not true.

For example:

Updating the workbook or the video content is WAY MORE IMPORTANT than making sure I don’t look ridiculous in the still frame of the video training before it plays! I realize how ridiculous and vain that sounds when I say it out loud, but that was a thing on my original list. Make sure the new content has a nice cover photo before the training plays.

However, when I got really honest with myself, I realized nobody but me cared about that. When the content is there and solid, that’s what actually matters.

Now even though I was able to shave off some hours with that filter, I still had more work hours to complete than I had hours in my workday. So, I had to make another decision.

  • I could push back the launch of the program to give myself more time.
  • I could hire someone to help me with the video editing or the workbook formatting.
  • I could work later in the evening or on the weekends. Etc.

I had to decide what I wanted to do to solve this problem

Since I’m beginning the group on time, we know I didn’t go that route.

My brain entertained that thought for about 14 seconds before moving on. And while I did ask for some support in other parts of my business, which I’ll talk about more in a bit, I ultimately landed on working more hours. I decided to intentionally shift from the boundaries I had set around work and rest and allow myself to work quite a bit more.

Now, this might not seem like a big deal to many of you. You may be thinking, who cares? You worked a little more. We all do that. And that’s probably true.

You see, over the past year, I’ve been working with my coach on learning how to create more space in my day for things I love to do outside of work.

  • Reading books that I love,
  • Creating projects,
  • Going on more walks,
  • Spending time with my family
  • Connecting with friends more often

Again, I know it sounds strange and maybe even ridiculous that I had to work at this, but it’s a thing. Knowing how to leave space for fun and rest was something I forgot how to do at some point – likey throughout my career in academia.

Over the past year, I really made some strides. I’d learned how to…

  • Make space, so I wasn’t working all weekend
  • Create time boundaries for myself, so I ended the workday on time and actually did my shutdown routine when the alarm went off, rather than snoozing it twice so I could keep working a few more hours and finally do it then.

Throughout the journey, I noticed a significant difference in my life. I felt more grounded, more intentional, and more present generally.

So to then turn around and go back to the previous way of doing things. To revert to prioritizing work over everything else and not allowing any time for that white space was confronting. But maybe not in the way that you’d think. Because I LOVE my work, it’s not like it was hard for me to extend the hours. My brain was more than happy to go back into work mode. 

But now, my brain was also more than happy to start spinning in negative self-talk as well, thinking “you’re doing this wrong. You shouldn’t have to work this much. You should’ve seen this coming. You know better than this.”

So rather than simply allowing myself to put my head down, and do what I do best, which is hyperfocus on the work and get it done. I was making it so much harder because I was constantly “shoulding” myself the whole time, thinking,

“You shouldn’t need to do this. You should’ve planned this better. Working this hard is wrong. You’re wrong to work this hard.”

And this is just a brief look into the chatter that is my brain. But I assure you, it found many ways to critique and criticize.

The reason I am sharing all of this background is twofold.

First, I want to let you know that this stuff happens to all of us, even when we have the best of intentions and use all the tools in our toolkit.  I know our brains love to lean into all of nothing, and we love to tell ourselves, “I should have this figured out by now.” Or “I had this all together once, and now I drop the ball, so I’ve fallen off the wagon.”

But as always, I’m here to caution aginst this and remind you that there is no wagon. This stuff just happens. We’re humans. We have distractible brains. Many of us are time blind. And that’s okay.

Second, I’m sharing this all with you to set up the four key things that I turned to in order to help me work through the last couple of months, release that judgment, and make it through to the other side with the work done, my mind in a good place, and despite a rather significant sleep debt, some powerful takeaways for next time.

So if you ever find yourself in a situation where you’ve overcommitted yourself. If you realize you have one too many plates spinning, and you know you need to make some shifts, these are the steps that worked for me, and I invite you to try them on for yourself and use the ones that land.

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Key Strategies To Avoid Overcommitment

1. Realize When You’ve Overcommitted

Step one is realizing you’ve overcommitted and deciding what adjustments need to happen. Unless you get ahold of Hermione Granger’s time turner and can go back in time as many times as you need, something needs to give.

By checking in with your values, your nonnegotiables, and your priorities, you can use this to help you make those decisions.

And once you have, then we can move to the three strategies to help you through those situations when you’ve overcommitted.

2. Create a Container of Time For the Commitment

Once I knew I had the time I needed, I’d be working some extra hours, but I knew I could get it done, I put a container of time around it.

I started reminding myself: It’s only one month. (I essentially realized how off my time estimation was once I got back from Minnesota after the New Year.)

So anytime I started spinning, or my brain started worrying and stressing about this thing or that thing, I’d hit pause and focus on the container of time. I’d remind myself, it’s just one month. That’s nothing. You can do anything for a month.

As a side note, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this anecdote on the podcast before, but one of my favorite sayings from my dad came from a time that I was so scared about leaving for grad school. I was driving out to Massachusetts to begin my master’s, and I didn’t know if I could do it. I was moving halfway across the country. I didn’t know anyone. I was terrified. And my dad told me, “you can do anything for a year.” And that concept landed. And I kept repeating it as a mantra through my MA, my PhD, and through any other long-term obstacle I’m facing.

So when I noticed I was feeling that tension and pressure, I turned to that saying again. I put a container of time around the project, and I reminded myself, “I can do anything for a month.”

3. Get Support Where You Can

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In situations like this, it’s all hands on deck. And sometimes we’re not sure whose hands are available, but we can certainly ask.

I Got Help At Home

In my case, I talked with Ryan and let him know this month would be pretty demanding on my time. He was a rockstar and stepped up by helping pick up the grocery orders and shoveling the sidewalks when it snowed, and taking care of the cat when he got sick, and it was so helpful to know I had that extra support to lean on around the house.

Now I know I’m in a place of privilege here; not everyone has that kind of support, and I’m super fortunate. But I mention it because I think sometimes we could have the support, but we forget to ask. Or it doesn’t even occur to us to ask because our automatic story is, “that’s my job.” or “I have to do everything.” Rather than, “we’re on the same team, how can we spread the workload right now?”

I Set Up More Help in My Business’ Weekly Tasks

Similarly, I reached out to my friend Yolanda whom I’ve mentioned on the podcast. She does all of the beautiful formatting for the show notes and makes my podcast pages super reader-friendly.

I asked if she’d be willing to help me design some social media posts and captions for the month. I love the work she does, it’s always so stunning, and I knew that could be a great place for me to get some extra support that would ultimately free up time to focus on the updates.

And as a side note, I’ll be sure to link to Yolanda’s website in the show notes in case any of you are looking for some awesome web development, SEO support, graphic design, etc.

If possible, look for areas where you could bring in extra support. And you can look for support both directly, as I did with Yolanda, or indirectly, as I did with Ryan. And if you’re really resistant to asking for help, you could check out Episode 108, How to Ask for Help With Confidence, but also, remind yourself of step one: it’s only for a container of time.

It’s only for this month. It’s only for the next couple of weeks, it’s only for these few days.

4. Release Judgment & Let It Be Okay

In fact, rather than judging yourself for overcommitting, can you instead learn from the experience for next time while also feeling incredibly proud of the hard work and contribution you’re making?

As I alluded to, my brain loves to go into self-judgment mode anytime it can. It’s an area I continually return to anytime I’m doing something new or unfamiliar. And as a side note – if you notice this happening to you, too, don’t worry; this is super common.

Whenever you challenge your brain with something new, it will likely want to slip back into more well-worn neural pathways because it’s getting challenged in new ways. It’s like you lifted weights for years but then learned you were using a bad form that could hurt your body.

So you work on the form, and you finally get it locked in correctly, but then you learn a new move, or you add more weight to the bar. In that new challenge, you may feel the pull to go back to the old form since that’s more familiar. You did it longer. It’s the same thing here.

My brain is well practiced with self-judgment, and as I approach this new content and work on it intensely for a contained period of time, my brain wanted to slip back into the judgment of “you’re doing it wrong. you should know better. blah blah blah.

As I was talking with my coach about this and realized it was happening, it was like this lightbulb went off.

I realized, what the heck? I love working.

This is actually really fun for me. I spent an entire year trying to learn how to rest because I didn’t want to stop working. I love it.

So the only reason why this feels bad is that I’m judging myself for working longer hours. It’s because I decided that this means I’m doing it wrong. But again, I really like the work.

So what if I just drop the judgment and instead feel really proud of myself for working hard for this container of time to create this content for my clients?

I have plenty of time to rest and play at the end of this time, and I’ve learned from it for next time. So why not do that? That’s WAY more fun, WAY more sustainable, and just makes a lot more sense.

So if you find you’ve overcommitted yourself and you’re judging yourself for doing so. If your brain offers similar thoughts like, “you’re doing it wrong. you should know better.” I invite you to let that go.

I encourage you to learn from the experience from a place of curiosity and then step into feeling really proud of the hard work you’re doing. Because here’s the reality – you’ve already committed to the situation. You’re all in for that container of time. So why not feel proud of yourself for it? I promise you, it will make the entire experience so much more enjoyable.

Final Thoughts on Overcommitment

woman looking stressed out

So that, my friends, is a look behind the scenes and the key lessons I learned after over-committing myself.

I hope that if you ever find yourself in this place, you can. use these concepts to support yourself through it, too.

As a quick recap…

  • Step 1: Recognize it’s happened and decide intentionally what you’re committing to and what you’re willing to let go. Something will have to give, so decide that with intention.
  • Step 2: Put a container of time around the commitment
  • Step 3: Get additional support
  • Step 4: Release the judgment and instead feel proud of the hard work you’re doing, because you’re showing up and making it happen. You’re busy being awesome.

Join Me in ‘We’re Busy Being Awesome!

If you want to take these concepts even deeper, and if you want to experience the new content I’ve created, then I’d love to have you join us in We’re Busy Being Awesome.

The February cohort is enrolling now, and we begin on the 2nd. When this episode comes out, the bonuses are still available for anyone who signs up before the 27th. So if you know you’re in and you’ve been “meaning to get around to signing up.” Now is the time so you can get those fun bonuses, too. You can see everything at We’re Busy Being Awesome.

Want To Join Our Group Coaching Program?!

I will be opening the doors for the next cohort of We’re Busy Being Awesome in a couple of weeks!

Add your name to the waitlist so you’ll be the first to know about program dates and times, plus how you can sign up if it’s a great fit for you.

Also, have you grabbed the podcast roadmap yet? It has the most popular episodes all detailed for you so you can get yourself up to speed and ready to work with your ADHD brain. Access now!

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