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Stop overscheduling yourself by asking 1 simple question

Leave room on your calendar for the things you actually want to do. One simple question can help.
by A. Pawlowski / / Source: TODAY

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If your calendar leaves you struggling to breathe, it’s time to be more selective.

Overscheduling can turn weeks and months into one big blur, said Laura Vanderkam, a time management expert and author of the new book, “Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done.”

“One of the reasons people feel they don’t have time for adventures in their lives is that their schedules are booked up with things that they don’t wish to do, various commitments they’ve taken on,” Vanderkam said. “They don’t have space for the fun stuff because their calendar is full of not-fun stuff.”

When somebody asks you to volunteer, attend an event or otherwise contribute your time, it’s very hard to say no. But the problem is that the farther the event is in the future, the more it feels like it’s a different person who’ll be doing it, Vanderkam noted. You’ll consider that person the “future me.”

When the invite or request comes, you’ll think: “I won’t be busy in October. Sure, I could do this in October.” But the truth is you’ll be busy in October, too.

So Vanderkam suggests asking one question before committing: Would you do it tomorrow?

That makes it more real because you know exactly what you could have done with that time tomorrow, she said. Plus, you’ll see how much you care.

If the answer is “Sure, I'd do it tomorrow” — you’d actually try to move things around or even cancel appointments to do this event because it sounds awesome — then you’ll feel the same way in October. That’s a whole-hearted yes.

If you think, “No, absolutely not, there's no way would I ever do this tomorrow,” then that probably should be your answer for October as well.

Leave room on your calendar for the things you actually want to do.

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