Combating Calendar Clutter
Updated: Oct 28
We are in full back-to-school mode at my house and personally, I'm glad to have the routine back in place. At the same time, my head is spinning with everything that comes with these first few weeks back to school.
Whether it is your kids' activities or your own commitments, you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Most of my conversations right now with clients and friends center around cluttered calendars. It can feel as if you have no control over the influx of obligations.
Something I do when I am feeling dizzy with all of the calendar clutter is to determine if this is due to the season or if have I been habitually over-committing. Being able to understand that this is a particular season, be it your kids' sports or a busy time at work, will help you manage it if you know this isn't your baseline.
If you find that an overfilled calendar is your normal, it might be time to start making changes. Just like with physical clutter, less is probably the answer.
Here are a few ways you can start the process of slowing down and eventually removing things from your calendar:
Get clear on your priorities
Cut out what you can. Reassess your commitments.
Let go of guilt and learn to say no.
Plan in flex time
Calendar clutter will creep up on you in the same way as physical clutter. You never intended to be over-scheduled and stressed out. There are probably some things that if you were asked you'd have no trouble saying no to. For me, it would be skydiving. That isn't something that gives me pause when asked, it's a no. While skydiving is an extreme example, we should be able to be clear on all of our priorities so that saying yes or no is quick.
It may feel as if everything on your calendar is a priority. I'd challenge you to really look at it and see where you could take off a few things. Another option would be to set boundaries and give yourself limits when it comes to adding things to your calendar.
Maybe Sunday afternoon/evening becomes an automatic no to anything outside of the family. Wednesday night could be blocked off for some breathing room in the middle of the week. Just adding a couple of opportunities for space can help ease the stress of calendar clutter. I understand the guilt associated with saying no and putting boundaries in place.
If you struggle with taking things off of your calendar because it feels like you are being flaky or letting someone down, I understand those feelings.
Something to keep in mind is that most people would want you to reschedule or cancel if you are feeling overwhelmed. Put yourself in the other position, you would show them grace and they'll do the same for you.
Another way to avoid needing to cancel or reschedule is to pause when requests and opportunities come your way. You don't have to say yes or no immediately. Give yourself a moment to consider the impact on the rest of your day and week. A pause is easier if the requests come in the form of a text or email. If the request is done in person you can respond with:
“I'll let you know, I want to look over my calendar before I commit”.
Setting boundaries around your time is a very personal endeavor. While I can give you some suggestions, it's ultimately your decision on how you spend your time. Racking yourself with guilt and overwhelm is a waste of that time.
Take a look at your calendar, what could you remove? What will you say no to in the future?