By Dr. Dan Reinhardt

Feeling overwhelmed by endless responsibility? Here are some practical things you can do about it!

Step 1: Plan well

The last blog tackled the first step: get control of your own life. We showed you a rhythm of planning that really works. But what if there’s still more than you can possibly do?

Step 2: Prioritize ruthlessly

When the to-do list is still too long, despite personal discipline, the next step is to take a serious look at the various projects and decide which are crucial, and which will be postponed or abandoned.

Life has a way of generating far more options than you can possibly accomplish. This is especially true at midlife when experience has equipped you to do many things – too many things. That’s why:

The issue at midlife is focus. 

prioritize

You cannot do everything you’d like. Your ‘want list’ is always greater than your capacity. Life is like a grape vine – it grows many beautiful green leaves, but too many leaves will compromise the grape harvest. You diminish your fruitfulness when you attempt to support every green leaf of an idea that comes along. Ruthless pruning is required!

How to prioritize:

  • Look at your projects, and decide which are ‘musts’. They might be requirements of your job, or very important to you personally.
  • Estimate the time it will take to complete each project – then double it. Things always take longer than expected. You’ve learned this by now, right?
  • Chart it out on your calendar. When will you actually do these projects? Is there enough time in the calendar? This exercise is a good reality-check.
  • Decide what you will say ‘Yes’ to. This is the stumbling point for many people – they say ‘Yes’ to everything. Every ‘Yes’ requires a ‘No’ somewhere else.
  • Learn to say ‘No’ graciously and firmly. Your life depends on knowing your health and energy limits. People pleasers must remember: When you say ‘Yes’ to too many people, you end up displeasing everyone.

 

Saying ‘No’ to good things and sincere people is a painful process, and it’s not a one-time event. More green leaves will sprout. Be ruthless in your commitment to priorities. Keep pruning.

What if, after disciplined planning and painful prioritizing, there is still more than you can do? This will be the case if you’re leading in an organization. You cannot — you must not — do everything. We’ll tackle step 3 in the next blog – stay tuned!

What has helped you prioritize?  Write your comment below.