Overworked & Overwhelmed? Achieving Life Balance Amidst Chaos

Just as I stepped out to get some groceries this morning, I ran into one of my neighbors. In an effort to be polite (and make conversation!), I asked the typical mundane question, “How are you?”. I was expecting a “Fine thank you, how are you?” but his reply was far from that! To my surprise, he sighed and answered, “Overworked & Overwhelmed”. As a result, what seemed like a 5 minute door-step conversation, made it into a blog post!

The challenge of life balance in today's frenetically paced world is without question, one of the most significant struggles faced by most of us. We are overwhelmed by the day-to-day demands of our careers, families, constant tugging from cell phones, internet, a sluggish economy etc.. We often feel there is not enough time in our lives to do the things we need to do, let alone to do the things we want to do!

The meaning of life balance may vary for each individual, but one aspect most people agree on is that life balance revolves around time. Guess what, I don’t agree with that and I will tell you why.

Twenty four hours. No scientist or philosopher or great individual of the past has ever gotten more! 24 hours... That’s all we get. No amount of wishing, complaining, or creative time management will ever change that.

No matter how many personal productivity techniques we master, there will always be more to do than we can ever accomplish in the time we have available to us, no matter how much it is!

We’re too busy because we choose to be.

It’s not really time management we should be looking into.
Even though much has been written about proper time management, the advice is more focused on making more efficient use of time. Wake up early, delegate ..etc In fact, too much emphasis on time management makes one obsessive, always watching the clock and thinking about what task is scheduled next.

So perhaps it makes more sense to give precedence to choice management over time management?

Decide what comes first
Living a balanced life is about integrating components of your life that are truly important to you and realizing that sometimes you need to make choices about what has to come first.
For something that seems so self-evident to most people, it’s remarkable how many of us struggle to put it to practice! Often, there is a myriad of excuses, the common one being, “I am not disciplined enough.” Perhaps it’s not a discipline problem at all. The problem is more often that the person has not yet sufficiently paid the price to get very clear about what matters most to them. What do you think?

By choosing what comes first, sometimes there are sacrifices. But living a balanced life doesn’t require you to give 100 percent of yourself 100 percent of the time. There will be times when personal/family life and work collides but by knowing what’s really most important to you and making choices based on this criterion, you’ll be better able to balance your decisions.

Stay close to the shore with your commitments
People who are too nice rarely say no. Faced with too many options and too much pressure, we respond with too many “yes”s. Recognize that you don't have to agree to everything and with everyone. Use your priority criteria to identify requests that simply aren't worth your time.

You become what you expect?
We all go through life expecting certain things. Rather than having more leisure time, we have less because we expect to do more and others expect us to do more.

Finding a balance in your life is an ongoing process. Life is in a constant state of change... a work in progress. Allow yourself the time to regularly reassess the direction in which you are heading. Are you on track, or have you temporarily derailed?

I am iterating again... We’re too busy because we choose to be. What are your thoughts on this? Leave a comment and let me know.

Note:This post is submitted as part of the Life Balance Group Writing Project.

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Smalltown RN said...

Frist I want to say...thanks for stopping by my blog...but secondly thankds for leaving a message....I am curious of course to know how you found me..if you are so inclined you can either leave me a message or just leave a comment on my blog...whatever works for you.

I LOVE your thought on "Choice Management"....I have never really thought of it that way...but gosh that sure makes sense.....I am a HUGE time management person...trying to get the most out of those 24hours that we have....running myself into the ground sometimes....not sure why I chose to do that....it's just been drilled into me I guess......

I am certainly one of those people that is way to busy sometimes but still find time to take on more tasks.....

I like your approach here....I am going to remember that...."time Choices"

Gattina said...

Very interesting, but I am not concerned anymore (fortunately) lol ! I am retired, I live my life as I want I get up early or late I do what I always wanted to do and can say now I am a happy person (and lucky too) of course that hasn't been the case all the time in the past !

Shamelle said...

@Smalltown: Choice management is something I have been looking into for sometime now.. I thought of writing a post about it and get some opinions about it.
Sure, I will visit your blog and leave a comment.

@Gattina: Wow.. you really seem to have an easy going lifestyle.

liza said...

hi shamelle! thank you so much for dropping by and leaving a comment.

im a multitasker, running a household, managing a store, taking care of the kids, blogging, etc, etc. i have so much to do i feel i don't know how to relax anymore, lol. but if 24 hrs can be stretched to 48 hrs, still it won't be enough with all my work. i know i work too much, lol.

i envy gattina ;)

Robert A. Henru said...

I agree with you, priority management is very important. But sometimes, we feel overwhelmed because we procrastinate, we are afraid to make mistakes, we think we have to do everything perfectly. So time management, even more mindset and energy management is equally important.


Vered - MomGrind said...

I agree that being frantically busy all the time is a choice. I make that choice each and every day, while longing to relax and have more "me time."

Thank you for a thought-provoking post!

Carla said...

Great post. I thought my issue was not enough "time management". Working a full-time job (I am 35 years from retirement - if that will even be possible for my generation) and working extremely hard to change careers so that I can have a more "balanced" life currently has me worked in the ground and utterly exhausted. Isn't this called "paying my dues?" Something that has been drilled into my head my entire life? I am not good with managing my time, and tend to spend too much time on a particular task instead of moving on and perhaps getting back to it later after other responsibilities are completed.

Shamelle said...

@Liza: I know what you mean! You should look towards prioritizing and adding a bit of "me" time.. into your schedule.

@Robert: Choice management at the end of the day is all mind management ;-0)

@Vered: yes..knowing our priorities and sticking to it makes a big impact.

@Carla: Perhaps you want things to be "near" perfect?

Stacey Shipman said...

I agree. I heard Jack Welch speak last year on this topic and his belief is exactly that - choices. Finding balance doesn't mean "equal parts" but rather being satisfied with our choices and decisions. If as a society we stopped struggling so much to find it, perhaps we'd find we're already there.

Bonnie said...

What I like about this blog is the fact that you write that it is a choice. We have the choice to put our lives in balance. For some reason, many of us believe that being "busy" is more valued in this society.

Shamelle said...

@Stacey: I did not know about Jack Welch's take on this. Now that you mentioned.. I am curious to find out more.

@Bonnie:"We have the choice to put our lives in balance." You summarized my entire post with that sentence :-)

rummuser said...

You are bang on Shamelle. "We’re too busy because we choose to be. For most of us, if we are not busy, we will have to be quiet and alone and that is usually a frightening prospect. We have lost the art of solitude and peaceful living, being comfortable with our own company.

Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk said...

I've always had the knack of focusing on what's most important to me. I agree, most of us have a choice about how we spend our time. My husband and I have always lived beneath our means. That enormously simplifies things.

Shamelle said...

@Rummuser: You make a valid point. Yes, most of us are too sacred to just do nothing and sit still for a while.

@Jean: You'll set a good example for everyone else!

Meghna said...

Hi Shamelle,
Very interesting and informative post! I'm just 13 and I do many things (as given in my about me page) and bloggers have been asking how I manage to do all of that and still me my vivacious young self!.....first I didn't know what to answer....now I knw....it's only coz I follow all ideas given in this post and know how to keep happy with what I've done..

The next person who questions me will be guided to this post :)

Keep in touch...keep visiting

Loads of love :)

Shamelle said...

@Meghna: You sound very mature for a 13 year old :-) That's a compliment!

Stacey / Create a Balance said...

Yeah! Thank you so much for participating in the Life Balance Group Writing Project! I absolutely positively LOVE the concept of choice management!

Prem Rao said...

Great post, Shamelle. So many practical tips. I loved the picture too:)

Shamelle said...

@Stacy: Glad to be part of the project.

@Prem: Thank you :)

Robin said...

Hi there Shamelle - I really like the way you talk of "choice management". It's a much more creative way of thinking about the issue than "how much can we fit in". I reckon lots of people could benefit from choosing more carefully what they are best off doing.

Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk said...

I wrote a post about this: Honoring Our Comfort Zones, http://stresstopower.com/blog/2008/10/05/honoring-our-comfort-zones/ It's about having a balance between activity/production and rest/reflection. Our culture is out of balance and too many people buy into it.

Shamelle said...

@Robin: "choosing more carefully what they are best off doing" definitely.

@Jean: Will check your post.

Lance said...

I agree wholeheartedly with what you've said Shamelle. We CAN choose. And, in fact, we are always choosing, even if it seems like we aren't. For instance, letting someone else choose for us - that's a choice also. You've said it so well - sometimes we just have to re-evaluate what is important to us. And it may not be about managing our time, but instead about really, deeply, determining what matters to us - and then focusing on that.

Mitch said...

Talk about feeling overworked! I have problems sleeping to begin with, and I know a part of it is that I just don't want to go to bed, because I figure I'm not only going to miss something, but if I never had to sleep I could get way more done. Of course, I know better, because it can leave one feeling tired throughout the day, but those are the types of thoughts one works on overcoming. Great post; thanks.

Anonymous said...

Great Post, Shamelle!
Love The concept choice management!

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