I'm starting to realise at last that there is a fine line between getting things done, doing "enough" and doing "too much" and that fine line is my own level of awareness and self care. Somehow, saying I want to do "just enough" feels like I'm not setting my stall out high enough. Plus - how do we define what "enough" looks like? I think if you say, "I want to do just enough to be successful/ get this done", it can be frowned upon, like you're slacking off doing the full job. We have a culture of not just needing to meet expectations, but exceed them.
(Photo credit - CSheehan Blog Author)
Yet doing too much can be counter productive. Take the last few weeks. It's near the end of my twins' time at preschool, so we have all the associated things to do with wrapping up time at preschool, transition meetings to a new school and sports days etc. At the same time I've been working on moving forwards as an artist - with the opportunity to exhibit work locally, I decided this was a good time to also update my Etsy shop and create a new website. Which all makes perfect sense - except that's a lot of things! It was brilliant - and it all got done. Until...
...I got a migraine. So here is what I learnt from it all - in the hope it helps you with getting the perfect amount done.
Lesson 1: Listen to the signals that your body is giving you about "too much"
My body tends to start warning me when there is too much stuff going on. I'm much better at listening to it since I had twins, because let's face it, four year old twins and a migraine isn't a good combination. Know your own signals for starting to feel like you may be doing too much. For me, it can be eye tiredness, a feeling inside that I've been sat working on the same thing all day long. Too much, simply put, starts to feel like not much fun. Often, we may have the awareness that if we don't stop, we will feel worse for it. When I don't stop, the feelings often get worse.
Lesson 2: When we power on through, we don't enjoy the work
When we power on through we start to feel like this must be done, and done right now. It loses its enjoyment and can become a chore, something to be got through so it can be ticked off. When we can stop and step back, often the added perspective and breathing space can help us see a better way to get things done. It becomes fun again.
Lesson 3: When we don't enjoy the work, it feels like hard work
When we try to power on through it feels hard, like a task to be managed, rather than something we thought would be a pleasure. And things feeling like hard work just adds back into the equation of "too much".
Lesson 4: Know what too much looks like - quantify it and have a plan in place.
This week really made me think about the way I work. After all, it's an old pattern and one I know. Yet one I still fall into. So for me, I may need some help to avoid the "too much" trap. How do I avoid doing too much? I need to know for me, what that looks like. I need to be honest with myself about when I'm approaching those levels and have a plan in place that helps me to practice stopping before I even reach that "too much" level. It means getting smarter about what productive is for me - the right balance of getting things done and feeling good about them. It means getting very clear and smart about the point before "too much" so I can avoid going down that route.
Lesson 5: Schedule in fun and rest.
When I'm working on lots of things I can get into a mind-set that things must get done. I move out of that space in my heart, which helps me remember to look after myself, and into my head - being "productive" (even though that often has the reverse effect). Part of countering doing too much is building rest and fun into the plan to start with.
Lesson 6: Enjoy and celebrate
I really didn't plan having a celebration at the end of the work. So now I'm planning a little spa treat and bought myself some new planner accessories. But next time I think I'll plan that right from the start - something I know feeds my soul or soothes my heart and will be absolutely lovely for me to look forwards to. So hopefully next time I can just enjoy a happy completion of work well done. The good thing? Lots more opportunities to put this into practice.