10 Signs You Are Trying to Do Too Much

How to Tell When You Are Overloaded by Your Work

Doing too much

You say, “I don’t have time to get it all done.”

And you could be right.

You may not have enough time to do everything you have in front of you.

If you are taking on too much work and aren’t saying No when you should, you will overload yourself to the point of failure.

Are you carrying too much work on your plate?

Struggling to Get It All Done

As I have said previously, productivity is not about doing the most things but rather the most important things.

If you are trying to do too much, it will eventually catch up to you.

No one can do it all, and if you are taking on too much you are setting yourself up for frustration, failure, and ultimately burnout.

Here are 10 Signs You Are Trying to Do Too Much:

  1. Forgetting Tasks – One of the first signs of too many tasks is that you start forgetting them. A good todo list will help, but you can only keep track of so many todos at once.
  2. Not Getting to Your Priorities – If your day is spent chasing the menial and doing the unimportant, you will never get to top tasks. When you have too much to do is when you start doing the unimportant at the cost of your priorities.
  3. Dropping Tasks – This is not forgetting tasks, but rather not getting to them. You know you need to do them, but you just can’t get to them and you let them drop.
  4. Letting Others Down – You usually let yourself down first, (see #2), however, next you will start letting others down. You will not complete work that you have to do for others, at work and at home.
  5. Making Promises your Time Can’t Keep – False promises are a sign that your productivity is overextended. You say, “I’ll have it to you today” or “I’ll get back to you by X date,” but you know that will never happen.
  6. Over-Stressed – Much stress is self-inflicted and unnecessary. When you have too much to do, you are creating stressful situations for yourself.
  7. Not Sleeping – When your mind is weighted down by all you need to do, you won’t be able to rest. Symptoms include not getting enough sleep, and not being able to sleep when you do try.
  8. Missing Opportunities – Opportunities are usually time-limited. Are they gone by the time you “get back” to them? Missed opportunities are a danger sign that you are not keeping up with your work.
  9. Paying Penalties – Late fees, rework, and fines are penalties that you will pay for being behind on your work. If you are working “in arrears” on your task list, you are going to create more work for yourself.
  10. Your Todo List is Unmanageable – I am a big believer in capturing all tasks to your list, however if your list is starting to resemble Wikipedia then you may have too much to track. Your list should be manageable to the point that you can review, prioritize, and act on it.

Too Much To Do

If you find yourself with too much to do and not enough time, it may be time to assess your workload.

When you have too much to do, you will cause yourself unneeded stress and rework.

Stop struggling to get too many things done, and instead concentrate on doing your most important things.

Question: Are you guilty to taking on too much to do? How do you deal with too many tasks? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Yes, guilty here.

    If I could add a #11, it would be “blaming anyone I see”. (Usually far from happening, but always possible, anyway.) But we have the power, they have the power, to keep everybody happy, so we could manage our time and tasks properly. We can tell others to respect our private and “work” time, unless of course there’s simply too much to do.

    With everything I do, I make sure I get enough sleep so that I can avoid having naps on the next day (although I also love naps). I make sure my mind’s ready for the day’s work. Although we can’t avoid finishing some tasks from time to time, to me it’s more important to be able to still manage them all. It pays to be really good on one specific task, but I think being able to manage them all, with limited time, considering there are difficult ones to deal with, is way more important if you look at the bigger picture.

    I also watch out for burnout. I make plans to meet friends or acquaintances on some weekends.

    I just realized I was exactly this–trying to do too much–last week.

    Great post, Craig. Thank you!

  • I’ve taken a year off work, partly to cut the backlog of my life’s things to do list. Even with the massive extra time I’m still having to winnow the list of stuff to do! The basic problem is we underestimate the time it takes to do stuff. A new roof on my summerhouse took 3 weeks not 1.
    It’s all about choices and putting the important stuff first. Which is hard as we have to say no to ourselves which may be the hardest person to say no to.
    If we can do it then we can raise our game on the things we do and be more mindful doing them. Zen and the art of laying shingles if you like.

  • Michael Shelton

    Great points Craig! A trusted and reliable system is key to avoiding a state of “anxious control.” As Ron Swanson said so eloquently in Parks and Recreation, “Do one thing whole-assed, don’t do two things half-assed.”

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