If you actually know how much you’re committed to, you’ll commit to less

I’ve had this quote swing through my head quite a bit lately.

I think this is why many of us can’t say no.

I think we can’t say no because we don’t know what we’re committed to and we probably have the capacity so we say yes.

And yet, when we really have a good map of what we’re committed to — both to others and to ourselves — it’s likely that we might (understatement) be overcommitting.

Of course, there’s no way to know for most people. You might have your calendar, true, but does it show you all of the obligations that you’ve made that you haven’t scheduled? How about all of the things you promised yourself you would do?

If you lined up this potential task against all of those things, you would be able to tell if, indeed, you have the time and attention needed to do it by the time it needs to be done and that doing this for them is more important than all of your existing promises to yourself and others.

But you don’t, and so you say yes to this task.

And it falls into the list of things we promised.

And maybe you’ll renegotiate it later.

Or maybe you’ll sacrifice something more important to get it done.

I’m getting better at this, but I’m still a long way from keeping on top of things. Still, it’s a pursuit that I enjoy.

Do you say yes to too much stuff? Why do you think it’s hard to say no? If you knew you were overcommitted, would you be able to say no? Any and all thoughts welcome.