I recently had a phone conversation with a friend. After a few minutes of hearing me talk about the many personal and business tasks on my list, he provided advice he had learned many years ago.
“It sounds like you are overwhelmed, and the fact is you can only do so much at one time. Therefore, my recommendation is that you decide what you wish to take off the shelf today. It’s true that you have some immediate deadlines, and they will take priority. However, you will feel much better and have more control if you make the decision regarding what to do and when to do it.”
Taking on too Much
As a professor, I often observe the situation where students are taking more courses than they can handle. Given that most of my students have full-time jobs and families, their bandwidth is limited.
I understand the students want to complete their degrees quickly. However, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, and the pressure will quickly impact their performance in all facets of their lives.
One graduate student recently informed me that he is going to take an 8-week break from his studies. He is an executive for an investment company, and his work travel had increased in recent months. He attempted to juggle work and school for several months, but he soon began missing assignment deadlines.
In this case, the student decided to put his studies back on the shelf. It’s fine!
There is no doubt he will continue with his graduate work, and he will eventually earn the degree. For now, though, this aspect of his life is on hold … back on the shelf.
Look for Things Not To Do
I was taught from a young age to get involved … to do as much as possible. By staying engaged, people will know I’m a go-getter, and good things will happen for me.
In my career, I’ve taken this attitude, which meant sacrifices were made. I took on more and more work and additional responsibilities, and thereby limited the time I had for my faith and family.
Today, I have a different perspective on life, and mostly because I’m starting to listen to my family and mentors.
Here are things I’m no longer doing:
- I no longer pursue new opportunities that require building from the bottom by myself. I launched a business in 1999 and know that commitment and hard work is absolutely necessary to make it successful.
- I no longer seek work that requires extensive travel. When I officiated men’s collegiate basketball for 25 years, I was away from home at least 4 months per year. If I’m going to travel, it will be with my family.
In the beginning, it was tough to say no to additional work, especially when the compensation was enticing. However, if I know this work will keep me away from the people who love me the most, I am no longer willing to go down this path.
There are many things on my shelf, and some of them I will never get to do. I’m okay with that, especially since I’m the person who will decide what is right for me and for my family.