Personal Growth

5 ways to stop spreading yourself thin

Hi there!

 

I like to look at creativity and passion as a deep, vast ocean beneath the surface of each and every one of us. At the top of this ocean sits a thin layer of ice, evenly spread, and easily breakable, and this is our outward image that others see. With stress, excessive activities and responsibilities, and lack of sleep, the ice thickens and becomes harder to crack. Our creativity, our passions become forgotten in that vast ocean beneath us. And the busier, more stressed we become, the colder we may come across.
 
Of course, not everyone can simply live a stress-free life and access their childlike-self whenever they’d like (or can they, with wabi-sabi?) However, if we are not careful, we can drown our true selves with tasks, people-pleasing, and saying “yes” to things that don’t align with us.
 
It’s a bit ironic because as we spread ourselves thin, the ice thickens, but the thinner we are, the less energy we have, and the farther we drift from our fun and child-like nature.
I’ve always been a busy person, and I’ve always known that I do quite a lot each day. And I suppose just recently I realized that I’m not just busy and overwhelmed by life, but have unnoticeably spread myself thin over the years, losing grasp of my true, authentic self.
 
Spreading yourself thin is easy to do. It’s when we say “yes” to everything, pile tasks in spaces where we have nothing planned, and use our free time to “better ourselves”. I’ve realized just how much I put everything else before myself, and even if I do put myself first, a lot of the time is self-growth or incorporating someone else’s tasks. I do make space for mindfulness, rituals, and reach for things that make me happy and feel good, but even those can be people-pleasing choices in disguise.
 
I’ve learned a lot about myself these past few days, realizing just how thick my ice has become. While I do in fact make time for myself, it’s not in the ways that serve me. In this post, I’ll be sharing 5 ways in which I’ve learned to stop spreading myself thin these past few weeks so that I can make space for myself and reconnect with what aligns with me.
 

5 ways to stop spreading yourself thin

 

1. Say “no” more often

 

Saying “no” is easier said than done. I’ve caught myself saying “yes” to countless things when in my heart, I know I don’t want to be saying “yes”, or even worse, knowing I already have things planned for that time. Whether it’s my fear of letting people down, or tendency to put others’ needs before mine, it’s incredibly challenging for me to say “no” to things. Or at least, it was, until my boyfriend told me something incredible the other day.
 
He said: “When you say yes to everyone, you will let them down. You will show up tired and they’ll know you don’t want to be there. But, when you say no to things you don’t want to do, it’s up to the other person on whether they want to be let down. People should understand that you’re human. It’s okay to say no, but it’s not okay to say yes all the time.”
 
Of course, we can’t do this with work or anything demanding, and we never want to be the friend that says “no” all of the time, but what my boyfriend said really made me think. Saying “yes”, in theory, is worse than saying “no”.
 
I dare you to practice saying “no” to things that don’t align with you, and notice how you feel. Maybe you’ll realize that you don’t enjoy most of the things you say “yes” to.
 
This also goes for setting boundaries and knowing your limits. A single human only has so much energy and time in a day.
 

2. Time-block your days

 
So this one I’ve only done once before, but I’ve decided to once again give it a try. Every week, I list my days from 7, 9, 11, and so forth, skipping an hour to save space. But now, I’ve decided to list each hour to get a full grasp of my schedule. I can peel open my planner and see my work schedule, my study time, my block for excercise, and so forth.
 
The key to time-blocking is making sure you don’t overlap your plans by staying disciplined and saying “no” more. And with it, you’ll slowly grasp a better idea of just how much time you spend in various areas of your life. In fact, I’ve realized just how much Youtube I watch and how often I avoid most responsibilities–oops!
 
Of course, don’t restrict yourself or be too harsh–enjoy your day, and lean into what makes you happy as often as you can. But time-blocking may help avoid over-planning and excess stress because now you can see your day for what it is. And, if we need to study or get a task done, we can cut out an entire section of time and dedicate it to that one task–this is more realistic than simply writing it down on your to-do.
 

3. Schedule time for yourself and your passions

 
Each week, I (try) to cut out two hours a week for writing. I also try my best to make space for daily me-time. Me-time isn’t a time to read books on self-growth (unless, of course, that relaxes you) or scrolling through your phone (unless, of course, this fuels you). This is the time to reach for what serves you, what calls to you, what calms you. This, for me, is indulging in a good book, watching some intriguing reality TV, stretching, or simply sitting outside with a fun beverage.
 
You can do whatever you’d like with this free time, but I recommend everyone cut out an hour, or even 10 minutes, of time to be authentically themselves, and forget about the piling to-do list and buzzing notifications. Just for a bit.
 

4. Simplify/prioritize your to-do list

 
Your to-do list could be much larger than it needs to be. Maybe, some tasks could be moved over to tomorrow or even the next week. (Also, if you don’t have a to-do list, I recommend starting one.)
 
I try to keep my daily to-do list at 5 tasks, and any other tasks I move onto a sticky-note for later or a weekly to-do list, and I complete those when the first 5 are done. This way, I feel a little less overwhelmed about all that I have to do.
 
Another tip is to prioritize your to-do list. Maybe laundry is more important than getting homework done, or vice versa. Knock out the important tasks first, and worry about the less demanding tasks next. Try focusing on one thing at a time, and if you can’t do that because another task is screaming to you, maybe that’s your intuition talking, and you need to re-prioritize. Maybe that coffee date or phone call seems fun, but right now, you need to clean your room, or once again, vice versa.
 

5. Practice mindfulness daily

 

When we practice mindfulness, we may gather a better sense of what we actually want and need. We can readjust our focus from all that we have to get done to where we are and what we are doing in each present moment. When we focus on the present, and still our worry by limiting our focus on the future, we can listen to our body’s needs, and work to knock off each task as we go.
 
When we are overwhelmed or spread thin, we may say “yes” or over-plan because we aren’t tuning in to what we truly want. We may forget, within all the mental clutter, that we only have so much time in a day. So, take a moment today to return to where you are and really ask yourself how you’re feeling. Maybe, it’s time for that me-time. Maybe, it’s time to connect to your true self.

I have been working on putting myself first more and allowing more space in each day, and I’ve seen a tremendous difference in my energy levels and overall clarity. I’ve also gained some confidence 
in myself by knowing that I have (the majority of) control of my own day-to-day schedule. I can’t plan for everything, but I can feel confident knowing that I have the ability to say “no” and set boundaries.
 
I hope these tips have helped you, but if you still feel tired and overwhelmed, don’t worry. Acknowledging that we may be spreading ourselves thin is honestly the most important part of creating space because now we can work to find solutions that fit our needs.
 
It’s time to crack that ice, and reconnect with the vast, creative side of us that has been overlooked. Let’s all work to chip at that thickness by clearing our schedules, in turn clearing our minds, and becoming whole once again.
 
Probably writing,

Brittney

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