time management

Not Enough Hours in the Day? 5 Reasons Why You’re Overcommitted and Overwhelmed

February 26, 2024

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Not Enough Hours in the Day? 5 Reasons Why You’re Overcommitted and Overwhelmed

Ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done? When you overcommit yourself and run into overwhelm, it can feel bleak.


Today’s episode is inspired by someone I talked with recently who shared that there just weren’t enough hours in the day, or enough days in the week to get everything done. She had totally overcommitted herself. Does that sound familiar?

Basically, she’d taken on more projects than she genuinely had time for. Working full time, but also taking on side gig contracting work. Caring for her family, being active in her community. She’d basically been hit with an avalanche of amazing opportunities but all of these opportunities had turned into overwhelm because she had overcommitted. 

She realized that there was no realistic way that she could get everything done during the timelines that she’d created without continuing to pull late nights, let her family down, and descend into the pit of burnout. And that can be kind of a stunning revelation, that moment when you realize – oh wow, I’ve taken on too much. 

And it’s so hard for me to see that as a time management coach, because I know that there’s no amount of time blocking or task batching that can truly fix overcommitment. Squashing overcommitment begins long before you find yourself drowning in things to do. And then, getting out of it and returning to a level of commitment that’s manageable can take some time. 

Overcommitted: Why We Take On Too Much

But there’s hope, and this week we’re diving into what causes us to become overcommitted. Because if we can get to the root, down to the core, of WHY we take on too much, we can become more aware and avoid falling into the pit of overcommitment again in the future. 

Hopefully this will give you some relief, but being overcommitted isn’t necessarily a result of poor time management, or even procrastination. 

Instead, overcommitment starts on the inside – it starts with what drives us to say “yes” when we should be saying no. We KNOW we should say no, and maybe there’s a little voice inside our head that’s screaming “say no! Say no! You don’t have time for this.” And instead, you shove it down and say yes. 

So today, we’re talking about:

  • 5 common root causes of overcommitment overwhelm
  • The importance of understanding WHY your to-do list is overloaded
  • What to do if you’re afraid of missing out or letting someone down by saying no
  • Why knowing your “enough” number can help you maintain healthy boundaries

When we find ourselves in a place of overcommitment and overwhelm, it’s usually a result of one of these five reasons – and this is in no particular order.

No. 1: We Want to Feel Needed

First – we say yes to too many things we’re seeking validation. We want to be needed, and might even believe that being needed equals being worthy. 

This is a profound and often personal question. Many of us, at some point in our lives, find ourselves in situations where our sense of self-worth gets intricately tied to being needed by others. It’s a pattern that can quietly seep into our professional and personal lives.

Imagine this: You’re at work, and a new project comes up. Your plate is already full, but you volunteer. Or a friend asks for a favor, and despite your tight schedule, you say yes. Why? Is it because you feel that by saying yes, by being the go-to person, you become more valuable? That your worth is measured by how much you do for others?

This need for validation, this equation of being needed with being worthy, is often rooted in our innate desire for acceptance and belonging. It’s human to want to feel valued and important. But when this desire starts dictating our ability to set boundaries, it can lead us down the path of overcommitment and burnout.

It’s crucial to recognize that your worth is not solely defined by how much you do for others or how many roles you juggle. Your value as a person, as a professional, is inherent. It’s not a tally of your tasks or a sum of your accomplishments.

So, the next time you’re tempted to say yes to something out of a need for validation, take a step back. Reflect on whether this commitment aligns with your values, goals, and well-being. Remember, it’s not just about being needed; it’s about being true to yourself and your own needs.

No. 2: We’re afraid of missing out

The second reason why we become overcommitted is the fear of missing out on opportunities, commonly known as FOMO. This fear can be a powerful motivator, but it can also lead us down the path of taking on too much.

This fear of missing out is rooted in our desire not to be left behind or feel like we’re losing out on a potentially great opportunity. It’s natural. We live in a world where opportunities can seem scarce, and saying no feels like closing a door. But here’s the thing: when we say yes to everything out of fear, we spread ourselves too thin, and our ability to perform at our best diminishes.

So, how do we combat this FOMO? It starts with a mindset shift. Understand that it’s impossible to seize every opportunity that comes your way. Quality often trumps quantity. It’s about making strategic choices. Ask yourself: Does this opportunity align with my long-term goals? Will it genuinely benefit my career or personal growth? Am I saying yes for the right reasons?

Remember, every time you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to something else – possibly something more important, like your well-being or time with loved ones. By understanding and managing our fear of missing out, we can make more intentional and strategic decisions about what we commit to. This approach not only helps prevent overcommitment but also ensures that the commitments we do make are more fulfilling and aligned with our personal and professional aspirations.

No. 03: We’re afraid of damaging relationships

The fear of missing out isn’t the only fear that might be driving you to be overcommitted. The fear of damaging relationships can also lead us to overcommit. 

It’s a real concern many of us face, especially when we’re asked for help or involvement by people we value – be it clients, business partners, colleagues, friends, or family. Relationships are everything – and the saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” exists for a reason. When someone asks you for a favor, or invites you to work on a project and you’re already at capacity, it’s a common dilemma: the worry that declining a request might be perceived as a lack of interest, support, or commitment to the relationship.

This fear can make us overextend ourselves, as we prioritize maintaining harmony and avoiding conflict over our own capacity and well-being. And It’s important to acknowledge that this comes from a good place – our desire to nurture and preserve valuable relationships. 

But it’s vital to recognize that true relationships, whether personal or professional, can withstand honest communication and boundaries. It’s about finding a way to express your limitations while still showing your care and support. 

Overcommitted? Try to offer different support

So for example, instead of just saying no – no I can’t help, no I can’t take on that project, no I can’t do that favor, no I can’t be on that committee – instead of an outright no, maybe you could offer a different kind of support – something that IS within your current capacity. Instead of chairing the committee, you could just be a supporting member. Instead of taking on the project, you could offer to share resources or recommend an amazing contractor looking for work. You could even suggest an alternative time when you can fully engage and be all-in on the request – I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this fall, but I’d be glad to volunteer in the spring. I’d love to take this project on now, but I’m at capacity – I hope you’ll consider me for any opportunities later this year. 

Effective communication is key. It’s about being clear and honest about what you can and cannot do. Most people will understand if you explain your situation. And remember, sometimes, a ‘no’ to others is a ‘yes’ to your own health and priorities.

Balancing our commitments and relationships requires a delicate touch. By being honest and compassionate in our communication, we can manage our commitments without sacrificing the quality of our relationships. It’s about mutual understanding and respect, and this understanding can lead to stronger, more resilient connections.

No. 04: We’re disorganized

The next root cause of being overcommitted is a sneaky one: disorganization. 

Many of us fall into the trap of overcommitment simply because we’re not organizing our time and tasks effectively. It’s a subtle but significant factor that can lead to a world of stress.

Think about it. If you’re not using a calendar effectively, or if your to-do list is a jumble of notes on random scraps of paper – or even just swirling around in your head – how well can you truly keep track of your commitments? The answer is, not very well. This lack of organization can lead you to underestimate how busy you actually are, making it all too easy to say ‘yes’ when you should be saying ‘no.’

Without a clear view of your existing commitments, you might find yourself double-booked, scrambling to meet deadlines, or realizing too late that you simply can’t do it all. This isn’t just about forgetting meetings or missing deadlines; it’s about the cumulative effect of continually overloading your plate due to a lack of oversight.

Overcommitted? Get organized

So, what’s the solution? I realize this is easier said than done, but here it is: Get organized. Start by choosing a calendar and sticking with it. A digital calendar, a planner app, a good old-fashioned paper planner if that’s your thing. Whatever helps you see the big picture of your daily, weekly and monthly schedules. 

I love using my giant Big Picture Year Wall calendar to help me get a birds eye view of my commitments for the whole year. It’s a huge help in keeping track of what I’ve said yes to, and it helps me avoid overloading myself during traditionally busy times of year. You better believe I take on fewer things in May and December because those months are insanity all on their own. 

If you’re curious, my digital calendar pick is Google Calendar. And back when I used a paper planner regularly, Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner was my go-to. Whenever I’m asked “what’s the best calendar, or what’s the best planner?” The answer is – whatever you’ll use consistently. 

Next, make a habit of regularly reviewing and updating your calendar and to-do list. This is where a weekly planning session is a HUGE help. I’ve got several episodes that dive into creating a weekly planning session, and you can find them linked below.

Being organized doesn’t just reduce the risk of overcommitment; it brings a sense of control and calm to your life. It allows you to navigate your day with confidence, clarity and intention knowing that you’re fully aware of your commitments and that you’ve made space for what truly matters.

No. 05. We’re afraid to miss out on money

Very often, the drive to earn more can lead us to take on more than we can handle. 

This can look like saying ‘yes’ to extra projects, additional hours, or even taking on additional  jobs because we feel the need for more financial security.

However, taking on more work in order to earn more money can turn into an endless cycle if we don’t have a clear understanding of our financial goals. This is where knowing your ‘enough’ number becomes a requirement. 

Your ‘enough’ number

What’s an enough number? Well I’m happy to tell you all about it. And I’ll also give the credit for this term to Shanna Skidmore. I took Shanna’s Blueprint Model course back when I first started coaching, and one of the things she teaches is knowing your “enough” number.

Your ‘enough’ number is essentially the amount of money you need to cover your monthly expenses, meet your savings goals, pay down debt, and enjoy a comfortable life – without overextending yourself.

Understanding your ‘enough’ number is more than just a foundation for budging, when you know your “enough”  number, you can set crystal clear boundaries for yourself and your work. Your enough number gives you permission to stop, to say ‘no’ to additional work once you’ve reached it. It helps you balance your financial needs with your personal well-being.

The ‘enough’ number in practice

A few years ago, one of my coaching clients – we’ll call her Brooke –  was a fashion and lifestyle influencer. She felt overcommitted and overwhelmed because she was constantly in content creation mode. Brooke felt like she could never take a break, and she felt glued to her phone, and that wasn’t the life she wanted with a brand new baby. 

What I discovered is that she didn’t have an “enough” number, so she was saying yes to every opportunity that came her way because she was afraid that if she didn’t, she wouldn’t have enough money. 

So, that was one of Brooke’s coaching assignments – to dive into her finances and calculate her enough number. By the way, does it surprise you that time management coaching would dip into the world of finances? When money is motivating how you spend your time, it has to. Again – time management so much more than time blocking and to-do lists. 

So – Brooke came back to our next session with a crystal clear “enough” number. She now knew exactly how much she needed and wanted to make each month. And the most amazing thing happened next, she realized that she didn’t need to work as much as she had been. With her “enough” number, now she was able to say YES – a big bold YES – to the projects that seemed fun, and she could confidently say NO to the opportunities that she didn’t need. As a result, she started to love her work again, because she felt in control of her partnerships, and most importantly – in control of her time and her financial motivation. 

Overcommitted and Overwhelmed? Identify Your “Why”

Alright friends, we’ve spent time exploring these five reasons for overcommitment, from seeking validation to financial motivations, and even the pitfalls of disorganization, so now, we’ve got some work to do. 

Think about it. Which of these 5 reasons you’re overcommitted resonate with you? Is it the desire to feel valued, the fear of missing out on opportunities, the concern about damaging relationships, the need to meet your financial ‘enough’ number? Perhaps it’s the challenge of managing a disorganized schedule that leads you to inadvertently take on too much.

Identifying our ‘why’ is the absolutely critical first step in addressing why we’re overcommitted. This isn’t just about finding temporary fixes; it’s about understanding the underlying causes that drive our decisions. Because, let’s face it, if we don’t understand the cause, how can we hope to find a solution? By pinpointing the specific reasons that apply to you, you can begin to tailor a response that effectively addresses your unique situation. 

Time management isn’t one-size-fits-all

Time management – and overcoming being overcommitted – isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. You’ve got to develop a personalized strategy that not only helps you manage your current workload but also keeps you from falling into the same trap in the future.

So, whether you’re sitting in a carline, folding laundry or out on a walk – seriously – take this moment to reflect on these five reasons.

If you’re overcommitted, understanding your personal ‘whys’ can be a powerful tool in regaining control over your time and commitments. It’s the first step towards a more balanced, fulfilling life where you’re in charge of your choices, not overwhelmed by them.

Resources Mentioned:

Related Episodes:


with anna dearmon kornick

Get the details here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hey Anna! I'm looking for an episode about...

Hey Anna! I'm looking for an episode about...

Overcome overwhelm and tackle each day with confidence with this free mini course!

I created Blueprint to Balance to share that simple method with you.

(and save you TIME in the process)!

Get Access Now!