Do you struggle with asking for help? Do you often find yourself thinking, “it’s just easier if I do it myself?” 

For all of you out there nodding your head right now, I get it, and you are not alone. In this episode, I’m sharing how I, a recovering perfectionist and former over-functioner, learned to do less and produce more. If you feel like you’re on the verge of burnout, I’m also giving you 3 strategies to simplify, reassess, and do less so you can get some bandwidth back!

Do you wear your busyness like a badge of honor? I certainly did when I was younger. Being in a state of constant doing used to make me feel important. If I’m totally honest (and I always try to be), I was also a control freak. I was the queen of “if you want it done right, you’ve got to do it yourself”. Sound familiar to anyone?  

Inevitably, I hit a wall of total exhaustion in my life. Over-doing also created a lot of resentment towards others, as if they were to blame for my doing all of the things…when in reality, they were not. It was me. 

Can you identify with this? Are you exhausted? Resentful? Are you a “human doing” instead of a “human being”? 

My dear friend, Kate Northrup’s most recent book, Do Less, shares the art of doing less while being more productive, and even more importantly, being exponentially happier! Kate’s work really helped me shift my mindset around business and productivity. 

“Work smarter not harder” is a pretty common affirmation around doing less, but a mantra that has helped me even more is “Work less, make more.” I used to associate overworking with being successful and it is just not true. 

Here are some strategies to help you bring more mindfulness and awareness into your day to day (so it’s not such a grind!):

Eliminate the Auto-Yes

So much of the time we feel compelled to say yes because someone else wants us to do something, even though our plate is already full. What can happen when our default is the automatic “yes” is we end up busy, busy, busy…and, yes, bitter. If we never stop to reassess what we actually want and need to do, we’re going to be out of alignment. 

Think through where in your life you often say “yes” when you want to say “no”. Can you buy time to think about how you actually feel before giving an answer? I think you can. 

I invite you to make a commitment to yourself. For the next 5 days, you’re not going to say yes immediately. Practice using a simple, kind phrase like, “Thank you so much for thinking of me. I’ll get back to you on that soon.” 

Then, institute a 24-48 hour waiting period before you make a decision. This will allow you space and time to mindfully decide if you want to do the thing and if you have the time, energy, and space to do it. The truth is, as much as things can feel incredibly urgent, unless it’s involving minor children or a life or death situation, nothing needs an instantaneous answer. 

Get Off Busy Auto-Pilot

Time to raise your awareness of what you are actually doing. The next time you’re on autopilot regarding a task, stop and ask yourself: 

1. Does it need to be done now? Get proactive with your schedule and be intentional with your time. Batching my work has helped a lot to make space in my week to spend time with my family, friends, or just be.

2. Does it need to be done by me? When we are doing things for others they can and should be doing for themselves, it’s time to reassess.

What I’ve found with my clients, students, and from personal experience is that over-functioning often goes hand in hand with high-functioning codependency. 

Take an Energy Inventory

We might know we need to simplify our lives, but it can feel hard to make decisions on what needs to go when we’re getting started. Everything might feel essential.  

A strategy that can support you in making changes is an energy inventory.

What are the energy drains in your life? To get into a new groove of working smarter and not harder, we need to know what is making us exhausted. 

Saying yes when we should say no compromises our energy, but being in dysfunctional relationships is an energy suck too. Taking on the hero role, being the one everyone comes to, being the “fixer”–  think through the relationship dynamics in your life. 

Take an honest look at your screen time and your relationship with social media, too. Do you get into a “compare and despair” loop when you’re scrolling? This can also be emotionally depleting. 

As an empath and highly sensitive person, what I find is when I’m not consciously protecting my energy and my bandwidth, I can more easily fall into old patterns of over-functioning. The more we plan time to rest, to recharge, and to just be, the more bandwidth we’ll have to be mindful and intentional in our choices.  

If you would like to learn more skills, more tools, and more strategies to do less, I am excited to invite you to a free masterclass with me and the queen of doing less, Kate Northrup! We’re going to teach you 3 unconventional techniques to reach your goals without burning out. 

After everything we’ve all been through in the last year and a half, I know so many of you are feeling burnt out, so I am psyched to be able to offer this support to you! 

Here’s where you can grab your free seat to my masterclass with Kate! 

We’ll also be talking about Kate’s online community, Origin, of which I am a member! 

Every single week, I learn something new inside the framework of Kate’s Do Less Method. For a recovering high-functioning codependent and over-giver, having this kind of support and techniques at my fingertips for time and energy management truly improves the quality of my life. 

I hope that you decide to join us for the masterclass because it’s going to be amazing! In the meantime, I want to hear what you have to say about this episode and what your experience of busyness is, so drop me a comment here or connect with me on Instagram @terricole. 

Have an incredible week simplifying, reassessing, and doing less, and as always take care of you.

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  1. Hi Terri,
    I resonate fully with this episode, your book, the Emotional Management information, all of it. I am a HFC working on being just me (which has been a work in progress for so many years). I had my husband read Chapter 3 (I believe that was about HFC’s) and he looked at me and said, “Skippy, this sounds just like you!” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I chuckled and told him I wanted him to know what I felt I was going through in “finding me”. He absolutely understood and has been very supportive. This past week, I have definitely made improvements in my being a giver, help and doer. Not offering someone a ride when they can manage on their own, saying No to doing something for someone, going to the beach alone to honor my Mom’s death this day 11 years ago, being in nature and I signed up for a Wellness Midlife Reboot Retreat, which includes yoga, nature walks, sauna, pool, hammocks, relaxation, vegetarian meals, my own room, nutrition classes and coaching sessions. A perfect fit for where I am in my life. And so it is! Thank you for all you do!

    1. Hi Maria,
      Thank you so much for sharing this! I love that you signed up for a reboot and are focusing on yourself! Right on ❤️❤️❤️

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