Overscheduling (Or, Why I Flake)

Today, I get an F. A big, horrible red F. F for flaky.

Lately, it seems as if I’ve asked for rain checks or reschedules more than I’ve actually gone through with my plans. I’ve enthusiastically accepted invitations a week ago that I now have to turn down for one reason or another. It kills me. And I know it’s not helping me form any solid relationships.

What’s going on?

A huge misconception of time.

I’m a chronic overscheduler, a misinterpreter of how much time I really need to get things done. I have a feeling that many of my young, vibrant, social cohorts are the same way – we gladly RSVP for things well beyond our comprehension at the time. For me, that is often any time after 12 hours from now.

Any TimeOn top of work and more work, I have great (and sometimes overwhelming) aspirations: writing, exercising, crocheting, sewing, reading, playing music…the list goes on and on. I also have a fiance that I live with and that I usually get to see only briefly – although I’m so grateful to at least see him every day, since we’ve had our fair share of long distance.

But that list of excuses still doesn’t explain why I’m consistently letting down people I care about. It turns out, I’m just not good at saying no, at setting limits. But since everything around us has become on-demand, it’s easier than ever to pause and come back for it all later rather than passing on it the first time around.

I’ve had enough. It’s time to fix this weird, broken clock that I’ve been operating from for the past couple of years.Stop

My proposed cure(s) for flakiness

This isn’t one-size-fits all. It’s my starting point, so I’m sure it will evolve with time. I want to hear your tips, too!

  • Anything that is scheduled during the work week should be a no – until it can be reasonably defended as a yes. Or, maybe we all just need to be more aware that there’s really only 4 or 5 hours in the evening in which we have to eat, work, clean and the like. Not much time for gallivanting around town.
  • Don’t immediately tell someone “I’ll be there!” – take an hour or a day or two to confirm your plans and to evaluate your workload. Saves them the disappointment, saves you the embarassment.
  • Know priorities. Create a numbered list if you have to, and check your time against it – do you have room in your time budget for a quick coffee with a friend, or are there real and terrible consequences to delaying other tasks?
  • Schedule me-time, or downtime or naptime or whatever name you prefer – don’t book your days straight without having a little time to sit and stare at a wall or listen to classical music sans phone or conversation. That does so much more good than you think it might.
  • And finally, my largest struggle – single tasking. Personal schedules often look more like something a small army should handle, and so no matter how hard we work, the work is never done. I’ve started to resign myself to one big “to-do” per day after work. Not five. Not eight. One. At work, I’ve been in the helpful habit of listing a few little tasks to work on as well as one or two focuses for the day.

And to close, don’t sacrifice sleep. If you’re truly overbooked and your calendar is bursting at the seams, the last thing you need is to do it all while running on a few winks and a leaky caffeine battery.


5 thoughts on “Overscheduling (Or, Why I Flake)

  1. Are you me? Great tips, and great starting point.
    I’ve also resigned myself to book no more than 2 ‘out-of-the-house’ appointments per week (which also counts for work: let them come to me, rather than me travelling all the time).
    Being away more often tends to burn me out.

    • Hah! I’m glad to hear that this is an issue with others, as well – more people to learn from 🙂 That’s a great idea, I’m quite the introvert so staying put at home either by myself or with my fiance really helps me re-energize and collect myself. Too many outings in one week flusters me!

  2. Absolutely, I’m the worst at this. I guess my problem is less over-scheduling my commitments to people, but instead starting out with a giant to-do list, and when it inevitably doesn’t all get done I feel bad about it. I need to start planning more time in between my to-do items!

    • I love to write massive to-do lists that I can definitely not accomplish in a day, or even a week or month for that matter. I’ve taken to the practice of having a “master list” and will add 1-3 tasks from that to a smaller daily list so I don’t overwhelm myself. It also helps to put social events/outings on to-do lists (as well as any fun time, relaxing time, nap time, etc.) because even when you’re having fun, you’re checking things off your list.

      I have also been known to add things like “shower” and “brush teeth” to the list because I know I’ll do them, and it helps get me motivated to complete the rest of the list (crossing completed things off the list is the most rewarding thing!)

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