How to Be Honest With Ourselves When We're Running On Empty

How to Be Honest With Ourselves When We’re Running On Empty

How to Be Honest With Ourselves When We're Running On Empty
Image by Gerd Altmann

How to Be Honest With Ourselves When We're Running On Empty

Trying to do too much is a habit of mine. You would think it would have a positive effect on my work but it has the opposite. Instead of getting a lot done and checking things off my to-do list, I get overwhelmed. And then I have trouble getting anything done.

You can only do what you have time for, what you can physically accomplish in a day. Of course, you can work on improving your time management and productivity. You can also focus on becoming efficient and getting laser-sharp focus so you can cram more activities or tasks into your day. But is it really in line with what you want to do? If you're running on empty, it's hard to cram more things into your schedule.

Let me tell you about a personal example. At the start of the new year, I decided to read one book per week (for fun). So, I mapped out my plan and calculated how many pages I had to read each day to finish reading the book by the end of the week.

The first book was a breeze; I was recovering from the stomach flu so I didn't feel like doing anything else. But when I started with the second book, I lost interest. The task of reading 60 pages every single day for 7 days just didn't appeal to me. Combined with slow reading, the task became too overwhelming and I realized that, to be happy, all I needed to do was *some* reading.

Will I be reading 52 books this year? Not at this rate, but when I do read, it won't feel so much like a chore. I can focus on enjoying my reading time rather than worry about spending so much time on meeting my page goal. And if I make it a point to increase my reading speed when I sit down every day to read for 15 minutes, my reading speed will improve and I can read one to two books per month.

When we think about all the things we want to do, we need to ask ourselves how much we really want to do them. This is especially important when we're running on empty because it means we're limited on time and resources to devote quality time to each task.

I want my house clean, but right now while we’re living in an old house with leaky windows and no electric dishwasher, I can neglect the housekeeping so I can focus on higher priorities. Helping other writers and businesses with their editing needs and offering writing and editing tips is one of my top priorities because it is something I love to do.

I have found that there are things I’d like to do but I don’t have to do them every day. I can crochet once in a while, read 15 minutes a day, sweep the floor once every two to three weeks, make some monthly progress on learning a new language.

The things that should be done daily (or more frequently) are the things I care about most, such as marketing daily to build my businesses; publishing a blog post and sending out a newsletter twice a week so I can help you with your writing and editing challenges; writing and editing daily to continually improve my skills; and researching several times per week to expand my knowledge and to aid me in my work.

So again, we have to decide, when it really comes down to it, what do we really care about?

If we love to do something but we find ourselves avoiding it, the questions become: what is holding me back from it? Do I really not care about it or is resistance getting in the way?

I hope I’ve given you something to think about so you can decide on what to include in your daily to-dos.

Are *you* trying to do too much and running on empty? What things will you cut back on so you can improve your focus on writing?

Jody Calkins
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