How to Limit Your Expectations When Things are Super Busy

to do list paring

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I know I’m not the only one with a to do list longer than the time allowed to do it right now. Lots of people in my world have been talking about being busy, needing to stop and take time to schedule things and feeling like things are falling through the cracks.

I definitely know that feeling. This week we’re getting ready for house guests and a vacation, so I’m trying to do two week’s work, clean the whole house, do our usual life stuff and, oh yeah, work on the knitting for my book.

What I need more than anything right now is a way to look at my list that’s serious and realistic, that will make me feel like I’m doing well enough even if I’m not doing everything I might have wanted to.

In short, I need to limit my expectations in a way that won’t make me feel awful. Maybe you do, too.

Write it All Down

to do list paring
A portion of my to-do list for the week, which is actually about twice this size.

The first step, of course, is knowing what you need to do, or what you think you need to do. Write down deadlines, appointments, things you know you need to get done and things you’d just like to get done. Seeing it all in front of you should make you realize you’re insane if you think you’re going to get it all done, so that’s the first step back to reality.

What Can You Skip without Guilt?

I’ve turned down three invitations to events in the past week (one of which I’d previously said yes to) because I felt like I needed to be home instead. It wasn’t any big deal to the people who invited me (though it’s certainly nice to be invited, I don’t think I’ll be missed much) but it frees up a lot of time for me to not have to prepare for events, drive to the next county, spend hours away from home with people who might be offended if I knit the whole time.

It may not be events for you, but maybe there’s a task on your list that you won’t feel bad giving up or passing on. Get rid of it.

Would Anyone Notice if You Didn’t Do It?

Another big thing that helps me whittle my list when I need to is thinking about things I do that no one would notice if I didn’t do. For instance, this blog is called Our Daily Craft, but it’s so not daily and has been less so lately.

But I don’t think anyone really notices when I don’t post. At least very few people are visiting and wishing I posted more often.

I have a site I write for where I try to post twice a day, though I’m only obligated to do it once. When times get busy it’s easy for me to scale down and still meet my contract. The people who pay me probably notice when I’m posting less often, but I doubt my readers really do.

Say No and Nothing More

I’m one of those people who has trouble saying no, but I’m learning that it’s essential to be able to do so. And you don’t have to come up with an excuse or tell a big story to get out of something you don’t want to or can’t do right now.

Just no is enough, but if you want to say more, say something like “I’d love to but I just can’t right now. I hope you’ll think of me again in the future.” Or leave it at “I can’t” if it’s not something you’d want to do even if you had time.

We’re all super busy these days, and being able to limit what we have to do in any way we can is a powerful thing.

How do you pare down your list when you have too much to do? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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