The Perpetual Overscheduler

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full. -Henry Kissinger

Warning! Brain dump ahead!


I have the worst tendency to say yes to everything. Social plans? Sure! New work project? Absolutely! Volunteering on a committee? Why not? I think it stems from my inherent people-pleasing personality...I associate saying "no" to letting people down. 

This week, my yes-girl attitude has led to me being straight-up overcommitted. I'm co-chairing my company's Employee Giving Campaign, when I didn't even work for my company last year during the campaign. I'm spearheading two other projects at work that I'm pretty engaged in and excited about. I have social plans every single night this week. I'm seeing the dentist. I'm trying to get to the gym every day. I'm nose-deep in a great book I want to finish, I have at least five blog posts floating around in my head that I really want to write, I need to re-evaluate my car lease, order contacts, update my 401(k) and prepare for my move in less than 3 weeks. 

Inhale. Exhale. I'm overscheduled. 

The concept and topic of overscheduling has become such a hot-button issue these days. Debates rage in the media over the pros and cons of "overscheduling children," berating parents, colleges, and society at large for expecting youth to do every extracurricular under the sun in order to stand out...or just keep up. On the flip side, countless editorials wax poetic over the liberation of cancelling plans last-minute to indulge in an afternoon on the couch, or over scheduling "me time." 

I'm not a proponent of one end of this spectrum versus the other, but I definitely vacillate wildly between the two. This week, I almost feel like I'm competing against myself...or maybe against my to-do see how much I can check off, get done, accomplish. Fewer things give me a deeper sense of well-being than highlighting off an entire list of items I need to complete--and nothing frustrates me quite as much as when my "Monday-Tuesday" to-do list lingers into Wednesday or, god forbid, Thursday (like it's going to this week. Gross.). 

As long as I can remember, I've been this way. I was that girl in high school whose day planner functioned as a security blanket, often illegible for the tiny intensity of the inky scribble of extracurriculars. My college resumé was resultingly impressive, but I definitely burned out on activities that kept me up too late at night. One of my most distinct memories of my junior year, before I saw the light and quit debate to free up even the most minuscule window of breathing room, is of driving to Subway between two different extracurriculars, listening to John Mayer's "Neon." The lyrics, "She's always buzzing just like neon...How long can she go before she burns away?", resonated with me so deeply and I remember wondering if I was going to have a complete breakdown. Clearly, I survived, but the memory lingers, and I still can't hear that song without instantly taking inventory of where I'm at and how hard I'm "buzzing."  

Being a total control freak, I do thrive on being busy. But I'm tired of how glorified "busy" is in our society, especially among my peer group of high-achieving, ambitious, educated and intelligent girls and guys. Back at my old Big 4 job, the competition to get high billable hours and work the most became toxic for me really fast and left me insecure, anxious, and bitter. I've finally reached a place where I have a better balance of socializing, work achievement, and taking care of myself.

It helps that I can remind myself that weeks like this, where I do feel a bit overcommitted, are few and far between these days. It's even better that everything I have going on this week genuinely excites, interests, or fulfills me in some way.  I love doing things for others, and some of the things on my to-do list, like the employee giving campaign, wrapping the perfect birthday present for a friend, or helping a new acquaintance get in touch with recruiters, satisfy that need in me to give in whatever way I can. Other things engage my intellectual curiosity or allow me an outlet for self-expression. All things considered, I'm buzzing, but nowhere near burning away...and I think I like it this way.