Are you a helpful person? If you are, are you over-helpful?
That might sound like an odd question, but I have many clients who drive down their productivity and increase their time management challenges because they bend over backwards to help others.
I should clarify that I am not about to recommend that you turn into a grump or an uncaring human and completely stop helping others. But if your desire to take care of others or your quest to make sure others think you’re responsive causes you to make commitments you don’t have time for, it is time for you to examine how you help others.
What does being over-helpful look like? Some examples include…you:
*answer phone calls immediately lest the caller think you don’t care about them because you let the call go to voicemail.
*respond to texts immediately so the sender doesn’t think you’re ignoring them.
*say yes immediately to all requests, even when the thought of adding another to-do to your long list raises a panic in your head.
*volunteer to help someone with a project even though they haven’t yet asked for help.
*offer to complete additional work or tasks for clients and customers at no charge to make you feel that you’re giving them even more value.
*raise your hand and offer to take on a task because you know how to do it and can probably complete it faster than anyone else in the room.
*don’t have time to plan healthy meals or fit exercise into your schedule because you instead need to work on finishing these “extras” to which you’ve committed.
*have piles of work you need to complete, but you’ve helped everyone in the office finish theirs.
*see clutter on most of the flat spaces in your home because you’re so busy helping others that you don’t have time to straighten up.
If even one of these examples sounds familiar, and you feel like you’re constantly running behind, you might be letting your desire to help or take care of others create an environment of lower productivity, less self-care and increased stress for yourself.
How might you change your over-helpful ways so you can squash your time management crunch?
For current projects:
*Estimate how much time each takes.
*Decide how much time you actually have to dedicate yourself to “extras.”
*Adjust expected deadlines accordingly to give yourself more time and less pressure to complete them – and complete them well without driving yourself into the ground. Other options are to find someone else to help you with the commitment or hand it off completely.
For future situations:
*Identify the types of situations you tend to volunteer for and over-commit yourself to. This will help you flip on your Spidey Senses and sound the “warning: possible over-commitment” alarm.
*Become cognizant of when your over-commitment tendency is about to kick in. Your hand starts to go up, or the words “I can” start to formulate in your brain and begin traveling to your mouth.
*At its onset, clarify:
what all you’re offering to do
how much fulfillment it will bring to your personal life or how much of a career or revenue boost it will bring to your professional life – guaranteed…not just a possibility
how much time it will take to do a quality job
*Then ask yourself:
If there’s no guarantee of fulfillment or a professional boost, is this something you still want to take on?
If you do want to take this on, where on your calendar will you fit in time to do this?
By implementing these time management tactics, you’ll be saying “no” to over-committing yourself and “yes” to less stress and better health. When you practice this type of self-care, you’ll have the energy to help others in meaningful ways and on your terms.
For the complete guide to improving your productivity through making time for self-care, check out The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer.