Imagine you’re at a delicious buffet. There are so many options, and you excitedly fill your plate. As the food piles higher, you start to worry it won’t all fit. Suddenly, things do fall off; you’re making a mess, and you find yourself completely stuck.
Yes, that buffet is a metaphor for life. Because that’s all it often is, right? A dizzying array of activities that are all vying for our attention. It’s a buffet that many of us approach like kids in a candy shop – we keep taking on more and more until even the good lollies taste bad.
Introducing yet another syndrome
At Powrsuit, we’re staunchly against syndroming women (*cough* Imposter Syndrome *cough*). You won’t be surprised to hear there’s one for overload too: Superwoman Syndrome – “when a woman neglects herself because she is seeking to ‘do it all’ to perfection and stretching herself too thin”. Does anyone else think that sounds less like a sickness and more of a classic combination of socialisation, deeply ingrained gender roles and bad habits? We’ll say it again: women don’t need fixing; we just need a playbook.
The problem is that most of us haven’t been given a playbook for managing our workload. We feel like we’re on our own, struggling under the sheer weight of all the things we have to do.
Are you taking on too much?
We get it. Life is busy. It’s unreasonable to expect us all to be chill (start vibing?). But while a fully loaded plate may be manageable, an overloaded one isn’t.
We all go through phases with too many tasks that simply need to get sorted. But. That necessity can quickly become a harmful habit when we continue to take on more than we can cope with. If you’re feeling any of these symptoms, it’s time to take action:
- You feel resentful, stressed and anxious
- You’ve become a chronic last-minute canceller
- You start missing deadlines and making mistakes
- You’re paralysed with indecision and don’t know where to start
- You’re regularly working nights and weekends
Get out that scrap bin
Alright, let’s get started:
Keep your hand down
We’re all for strategic yeses – but they can only exist when you protect your time with firm ‘nos’. The next time someone asks for a volunteer to bake, cook, drive, organise, problem-solve, pick up, plan, etc., simply keep your hand down. Tie it to yourself if you must. By the time you count to 10, someone else will have put their hand up. If it’s another high-achieving woman with too much on her plate, perhaps it’s time to consider discussing a more equitable split of tasks.
Check your gut
We all experience hundreds of emotions, even if we’re not great at recognising them! If you find yourself in a committee, cooking circle or catchup that sparks an uncomfortable feeling in your gut, it’s probably telling you to bow out. Yes, it’ll be awkward to cancel a commitment. No, it won’t kill you. Quickly and politely explain that you’re overloaded and can’t give the thing the attention it deserves. Believe us; you’re doing everyone a favour – the sooner they know, the sooner they can make alternative plans.
Clear the Kmart
Make no mistake, we LOVE Kmart. We covet $14 serving bowls as much as the next amateur interior designer. But we digress. The juggle is real, and if you don’t get on top of it, the weight of tasks you’re juggling will get on top of you.
Imagine if each task you’re juggling was a wine glass. No one wants to break fake fancy Kmart wine glasses, but it’s much better to drop one of them than the vintage Waterford Crystal. Your tasks are the same; some are much more valuable than others.
If nothing can be dropped (we’d love to see that list!), consider the minimum standard required. Swap baking for store-bought, swap one-on-one catch-ups with a group get-together, and deliver a ‘good enough’ presentation to the team. You can take a decent load off by simply reducing your standards to the lowest acceptable level.
Less is more
Even if you love a bit of spandex and a cape, there’s no such thing as a superwoman. You may think you can do everything, but you’re probably not doing it well. And you’re causing yourself unnecessary stress. Think quality over quantity when it comes to your energy.
The only time it’s (sort of) okay to overfill your plate is at the buffet.
30 second action:
Take one thing off your plate. Choose something that doesn’t really need doing now (or doing well), and scrap it.
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