(Please note: I don't really consider myself an overachiever, but many of the people surrounding me tell me that I am, so, for the purposes of this post I am going with it. )
What I do consider myself is a "chronic over-scheduler/ double-booker." I proved this again just yesterday when I had promised to help out two friends at the same time by guest teaching in two places at once. I tell you it is nice to feel wanted, but it feels terrible to let people down.
One would think that proper calendar management would solve this problem, but, I am here to argue that something else is at the root of this: A complete misunderstanding of time.
I just figured out that "flexible time" is NOT "free time." Gasp!
In other words, I suffer from the misperception that having hours in the day that are "flexible" means that I have hours that are "free." So, I tend to operate under the misunderstanding that I can say "yes" to anything that comes along during those time frames, when in fact those hours may be needed for other things (or are already spoken for).
Now, I know that there are those of you out there who are thinking "Why doesn't she just look at her calendar?" "She must not be organized." " This seems like such an easy fix." I envy you, because if I thought like you I wouldn't have this problem in the first place. I have use a calendar, I tried to be organized, but still I let this happen.
I have experienced this over-scheduling, super busy, running-around-like-crazy, double-booking lifestyle over and over again. And, I believe it is because I THINK I have more time than I do and therefore don't feel the immediate need to reserve my flexible time, to make it un-free.
I am very fortunate to have a stable job teaching dance full time. And, if I ONLY taught my classes then I would have a lot of truly "free" time. But, I also wouldn't be fulfilled personally, and I would quickly become stale as an instructor who is not active in the art making process. So, I commit, commit, commit. I get honestly excited by the possibilities and opportunities in research, choreography, dancing, guest lecturing, presenting at conferences, writing online courses. . . the list goes on and on. But, it lands me in this wretched place of overcommitment time and time again.
After much thinking on the issue: Here are the goals I have developed in attempt to remedy this problem:
1. Learn to reserve at least a 2 hr block of time for organization (email, grading, planning, follow up).
2. Ask all commitment inquiries to be emailed to me (no exceptions!) so I can immediately check my computer calendar and see if in fact I am "free" AND whether it does not infringe on my 2 hour block of time for the day. (This email idea is courtesy of my sister in law, also artist and teacher).
3. Accept the reality that I simply cannot do it all. (I can achieve but not overachieve! I am only human.)
I will start there. But, still all of this depends on my ability to mentally accept and differentiate between the nature of having a flexible schedule and a free schedule. I have to see the open spaces on my calendar differently. I have to protect them even when it means disappointing someone I admire or care for. Maybe it sounds silly, but maybe there are some of you out there who feel the same way, always running around and often feeling like you are having to let people down because either, you didn't have time, didn't schedule properly or are just too stressed and tired to do a good job.
I am so ready to learn this lesson.
So, I have to get going, it is time to put this into practice.