How to Avoid Over-Committing Yourself

Ironically, one of the first words young children usually learn to say is “no”. However, as we grow older and enter the work force, many times we hesitate using that word. Maybe we think that if we say “no” to certain projects and commitments, we’ll be perceived as an underachiever. However, “no” is not a bad word and is something that we may need to say more often; especially when it comes to avoiding over-committing ourselves. This article will discuss ways that we can avoid the over-commitment roller coaster and try to bring some sanity back into our lives.

Re-evaluating Your Perspective

Learning to say “no” can be a frightening task; especially if you’re focused on guilt from what you perceive will be the results. Obviously, as it pertains to the workplace, you can’t say “no” to your boss or you may get fired. However, there are ways to find balance in how we respond to requests from others. For example, it is possible that you cannot you handle another project that your boss wants you to work on, so you will need to decline in a respectful tone and clearly state your reasons. Maybe a colleague continually invites you to hang out with everyone after work, but you can’t and need to find a way to decline the invitation without feeling guilty. The journey toward sanity and avoiding over-committing yourself begins by following the steps listed below.

1. Be Goal-Oriented  

Being a goal-oriented and career-minded individual can help you to stand up for yourself, say “no” and avoid over-commitment. However, that all begins by knowing who you are as a person, what your professional goals are and how you plan to achieve them. This journey begins by writing a career development plan. This article provides helpful advice on how to write such a plan. Your goals in life deserve as much credence as the menial tasks you need to complete each day. You have to learn how to disseminate what projects are of utmost importance and which ones can be put on the back burner until you have more time. When you constantly have your end goal in mind, it will be easier to say “no” to the time wasting activities and projects and “yes” to achieving your dreams.

2. Guard Your To-Do List

A second step in avoiding over-committing yourself is to guard your to-do list and every appointment that you add to your schedule. If you are efficient at tracking your daily tasks and appointments, then when your manager asks you to handle a new assignment, you will know whether or not you are able to work on it. Tracking your daily tasks and appointments also shows you in a visual format when you have completely filled your schedule. When something is written out, there is no room for hiding the facts. You need to be brutally honest with yourself about what is filling your work day and what is wasting your time. This article provides guidance on creating a functional to-do list in order to better manage your time.

3. Know Your Own Limitations

In my experience, there have been times that I’ve taken on a project before completely thinking it through and what the negative ramifications on my time would be. It is important to know your own limitations in order to avoid over-committing yourself. The first part of this step begins with assessing your skillset and understanding your strengths and weaknesses. This article provides helpful resources as well as guidance in developing an action plan so you can correctly assess your job skills development. When you are tasked to work on a project that is outside your area of expertise, that can cause you to feel overwhelmed, stressed and over-committed. Learn how to understand your limitations, seek out opportunities to grow and work with your manager to assess the workplace situation.

4. Find a Balance

All of this discussion on saying “no” is not meant to advise that you should decline every new project and never seek to achieve lofty goals. Rather, you need to find a balance in accepting new tasks and rejecting the ones that you cannot handle. Never use “no” as a scapegoat for not wanting to grow and develop as a professional. Sooner or later, your manager will see through that behavior and you risk getting written up or worse, fired. Avoiding over-commitment is not about avoiding any commitment at all. You must find a symbiotic balance between your skillset, time allowance and career goals—and then work within those boundaries. Remember, that saying “no” should be specific to each situation and not a blanket statement that you throw out there like a child throwing a tantrum.

Avoiding over-committing yourself is all about finding balance in life and knowing who you are as a person. Be true to yourself and what you are capable of accomplishing. Learn how to become more goal-oriented and track your daily tasks and schedule. Professional growth and development is a process, so be open to the necessity to make changes each day as you learn how to avoid over-commitment.