I want to start a new conversation around how we handle our time. There are infinite apps, tools, hacks, and machines meant to help us save time (anyone else in love with their Roomba?) – yet so many folks I know are still on the brink of burnout.

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I recently listened to a podcast on women’s household duties during the nuclear age. New things were constantly hitting the market to help women do their chores – the dishwasher, the washing machine, the electronic mixer, the vacuum. So many things were invented that it would seem that housewives would be able to spend most of their time lounging on the couch smoking Marlboros and drinking martinis. So what happened?

We upped the ante.

Baking is easier now? Let’s start making ANGEL CAKE! No longer need to hand make all of your own clothing? Well, you’d better look fully done up, always.

Just like a game of Tetris, the more free time new inventions cleared out for us, the more expectations came gliding down.

Being busy is one thing – but I’m talking about feeling unnecessarily overwhelmed. I’m not talking about I-have-five-kids-and-work-full-time busy. I’m talking about I-can’t-stop-saying-yes-to-unpaid-board-position-and-presentations busy. (Just for the record – I know someone with five kids and a successful business. It’s true that they are busy – but they never tell me they are overwhelmed. It can be done!)

So many friends, family members, and clients come to me on a regular basis waving the white flag. They tell me they have nothing left to give, they can’t keep working this much, and they need to make a change.

And yet…they still seem to have schedules overflowing with meetings, events, and commitments. How can this be? How can we know the simple solution (DO LESS) and have every form of technology at our fingertips – AND YET we still can’t seem to find a way to slow down?

I have a theory, but it is a bit controversial… Y’all are ADDICTED to being overwhelmed!

If someone I loved came to me every week to tell me that riding their bike to work left them exhausted, overwhelmed, and depleted at the end of each day, the answer would be obvious: STOP RIDING YOUR BIKE! Find a different mode of transportation! And if this loved one continued to ride said bike day in and day out…I would say they might have a bit of a problem.

We all know the answer to our busy beaver problem. It is simple but not easy. So instead of giving you a listicle of time-saving hacks and tricks, I would like to point us in a different direction.

I would like us to find the root cause of our issues around feeling overwhelmed.

1. You have the disease to please

Did Oprah invent that phrase? I hear her say it all the time and, boy, do I love it.  I have to be real with you – the number one cause of overcommitting your time is trying to make everyone happy. Saying no is hard. Having boundaries feels uncomfortable. My therapist even told me once that when you are new to setting boundaries, doing so feels mean. No one wants to be mean!

  • Old thought » if I say yes to everyone, no one will be disappointed in me.
  • New thought » setting kind boundaries is good for everyone.

2. You want others to think you can “do it all”

Sometimes we only see ourselves through the eyes of others. And if we look like a superstar who can do it all to others, we will feel like a superstar in our hearts!

This is not sustainable. Impressing those around us by volunteering for every single thing is a totally natural human instinct. Being an overachiever is impressive! But it’s not sustainable in the long run.

  • Old thought » if I don’t “do it all” I will be a failure.
  • New thought » every human is different and every path is different. There is no failure.

3. You have way too much integrity

I once had a meeting scheduled with a colleague who I knew was super busy. I was honestly expecting her to cancel our get-together but figured her day had opened up when she said nothing.

This was not the case – she showed up to our meeting late and was exhausted the entire time. She could barely keep her eyes open and I doubt she was absorbing anything I was saying. I knew she was someone who prided herself on keeping her promises and would never dream of leaving me feeling ditched. However, I really, really, really wish she had canceled our meeting and taken a dang nap instead. There is no shame in saying you need a mental health day or just time to REST.

  • Old thought » if I flake on the commitments I made, I won’t be a person of integrity.
  • New thought » life happens, and I am allowed to take care of myself (and make fewer commitments – see #1 and 2).

4. “Sunk costs”

When I started my first business, I signed up for several pricey networking events with money I didn’t exactly have. I felt high (manic even!) with all of the #girlbosses I was about to meet and all of the high-paying clients I was about to onboard. I am an extrovert and I was fired up about my new company. However, after event #4, I felt a shift. I was exhausted. I looked at my calendar with dread. I made the difficult decision to excuse myself from the rest of my networking events for the month. I knew that showing up feeling dread would not make the impression I wanted.

  • Old thought » if I don’t follow through on things I paid money for, I will have thrown that money away.
  • New thought » there is no such thing as money wasted – only lessons learned. Some lessons are just more expensive than others. 

5. You have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

Maybe you’re not a people pleaser, and maybe you don’t care what other people think. Maybe your issue is that you love all of the shiny objects that come into your orbit and you don’t want to miss a single one! The fast-paced life sure is fun, but when our schedule gets too full we need to start taking a closer look at which commitments are actually contributing towards our larger goals.

  • Old thought » If I don’t say yes to everything, I might miss an amazing opportunity.
  • New thought » If I am intentional with what I say yes to, the right opportunities will come to me (and I’ll have the time and capacity to act on them).

6. You are worried about money.

You see extra working hours as extra security. Stopping means losing that safety. If this is you, I highly recommend spending some time working on your Money Mindset. It will change your life and free you in ways you can’t imagine.

  • Old thought » if I don’t work enough, I won’t have enough income to sustain myself.
  • New thought » there are multiple ways to make money. Trading my time is not the only one.

Do any of these resonate with you? Maybe more than one? Perhaps your root cause is totally unique.

Regardless of how you got here, it is time we prioritize getting ourselves OUT. And that begins with some self-awareness and some serious self-love.


About Devin Lee

As the only Certified Online Business Manager in Portland, Devin Lee partners with business owners on their company’s vision. She provides high-level support, freeing up business owners to focus on the parts of the business that inspired them to create it in the first place. 

In her free time, Devin loves to roller skate, listen to podcasts, explore the best places to eat Sushi in Portland, and make new friends.

Check out her website and follow her on Instagram!