Fall is a time of new beginnings. So many opportunities present themselves in this season! This can feel very exciting and stimulating. After a lovely vacation and time off, we’re tempted to load on new commitments in the fall. However, be careful! It is a slippery slope, and you might find yourself soon overwhelmed.
Many of my Seeing My Time® clients, both students and adults, show up in September already burdened with too much to do.
Some set extraordinary expectations for themselves for work or school.
Some are in environments where the work or educational culture sets heavy and often unrealistic demands. These clients come to me for time management advice to figure out how to do it all. They want a magic wand to escape their pain.
I am very clear with these clients that I don’t possess such a magic wand.
No one does.
However, during our time together, I can help them to understand the connection between their brain and time management. I help them to develop an understanding of the tools and strategies to support good time management. And I repeatedly stress my Third Truth of Time: Time does not stretch so you can do more.
To be honest, I hate this particular truth of time. We all do! Everybody pushes against it, assuming that in the future there will be enough time for all the things they want and need to do.
If you want to correct the imbalance and overwhelm, my first advice is to practice saying “no,” to others and more importantly, to yourself. This is not easy to do, but is essential to practice as a means of supporting your executive functions.
You must be the gatekeeper of your own time. For here is another truth that has been resonating with my clients:
“When you say “no” to a request of your time, it frees up space in the future. Otherwise, you are clogging up your future. Overwhelm and stress is then inevitable. By creating space in the future, you are beginning to master the executive function skill of future thinking.
So when is it time to start gatekeeping? Take a moment to pause and assess your commitments. Ask yourself:
Then, go stand in front of a mirror and practice this little speech to be ready when someone is enticing you to take on something new:
“Thank you for asking! I don’t have the space in my life for any new commitments right now.”
Your future self will be very thankful for the open space in your life.
Little by little…And save time to savor the fall weather!
Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program®. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.