“Most people don’t sign up to be overwhelmed,” said GRC counselor Erik in a conversation I had with him, but many people accidentally set themselves up to become overwhelmed by saying ‘yes’ to tasks that they should say ‘no’ to. So, how can we determine which tasks we should say ‘no’ to? How can we determine what to place on our “Not To Do” list?
Know your calling. What does your Creator have for you to be focused on? Before saying yes to everything that may pull our hearts, we need to check if the task fits in to what our Father has revealed for us to do. There are many good things that we can say ‘yes’ to, but saying ‘yes’ to too many good things will eventually burn us out and keep us from moving forward in what we have been called to do. Keep in mind your callings as you say yes to different tasks, and also keep in mind that callings are allowed to (and even supposed to) change and grow over time. We are not stagnant unchanging people, so our callings from our Creator will not be stagnant or unchanging either.
2. Know your obligations. What have you already signed up for? What promises have you made to others that will take time or energy? Take stock of what you have signed up for and said yes to in order to get a better picture of what time left you have to spend (if any) at this point. If you find you are “overspending” on time and giving out energy you really do not have to give then it may be time to delegate or just say no to a few things in order to keep yourself from going “physically bankrupt” and burning out.
3. Know your giftings. Do you know what you’re good at? If you feel continually drained this can be a sign that you are spending a lot of time doing things that do not come naturally to you so your brain is working overtime to compensate. While it is good to stretch yourself, and we are often called to do things we are not naturally as good at in order to bring our Father more glory - your Creator has given you unique giftings for a reason. We need each other, because no one person is good at everything. When you feel more stress than normal, examine if you are working within your giftings and if the answer is ‘no,’ then determine if you might be able to delegate the task to someone who is gifted in the particular area that is causing you stress.
4. Create a prioritized “Scorecard.” The scorecard lists out all the things that take your time and how you currently prioritize them from A to Z, from most important to least important. Sometimes we may forget that we cannot make everything first priority - not everything can be an “A” on the scorecard. Determine ahead of time what things you will bump to another week or month if something unexpected comes up, because unexpected things often come up in life - especially on the field.
5. Build accountability. Build friendships with people who have known you when you were stressed and not stressed and can recognize the difference. Ask them to make you aware of when they see you particularly stressed because we so often can become blind to our own stressed states, especially if we have lived in a stressed state for a prolonged period of time. Sometimes it takes someone else holding a virtual mirror up to us to truly see how we are doing and shock us to make changes that we desperately need.