Balancing time, activities and perfection


“So many doors are opening and I’m getting overwhelmed, ” Caroline said as we began our coaching session.

“What doors are opening?” I asked.

“ I’m spearheading our employee barbecue,” she said, “and I want to do a great job.”

“ What does doing a great job look like?” I asked.

“ I want people to think, ‘This is the best barbecue we’ve ever had,’ ”  she said.

“What’s your plan?”  I asked.

“ I ordered a book on party planning and one on barbecue cooking,” Caroline said. “I’ve also contacted three caterers for pricing. ”

“That project sounds well under way, ” I said. “What other doors are opening?”

“I met with a personal trainer who gave me a program to reach my goals, and I’ve cut out a picture of the perfect body from a magazine,” Caroline explained. “My trainer said it’s ambitious, but I want to try. I’ll work out five days a week and change the way I eat. ”

“ What else is happening? ” I asked.

Caroline lit up and told me about coordinating an upcoming church fundraiser. I noticed her reference to do this bigger and better than any other year.

“ I love your excitement, and your passion is contagious,” I said. “I’m curious how you will integrate these activities into your already busy schedule. It sounds like you are saying a big yes to these activities, with high expectations, and I’m wondering what you are saying no to in the process?”

“ I do have high expectations, don’t I?” she asked, pausing. “No wonder I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. Maybe I bit off more than I can chew.”

“How can we prioritize and make these activities more manageable?” I asked.

“By determining what’s most important,” she said. “But they all seem important.”

I got out note cards and wrote the name of each activity on a separate card. I had her tell me about each one and rate her level of excitement on a scale of one to 10. From that we ranked the note cards, with the most important activity on top and others below.

When we finished, I said, “It looks like getting in shape is your first priority, followed by the barbecue and then the fundraiser. Let’s say you have 10 hours each week to split between these activities. Based on how you ranked them, how would you split your time?”

“I’d spend seven hours on my fitness goals, two on the barbecue and one on the fundraiser,” she said. “Based on these rankings, I’ll also need to adjust my expectations and levels of commitment.”

Caroline suggested logging time spent on these activities during the upcoming week so we could monitor how she honored her priorities and balanced that with her goals. She also agreed to adjust her level of involvement in lower-ranking activities. She felt comfortable volunteering, but not taking the lead. Her last Action Step was to communicate with people at her work and at church and be clear with how much time she could commit to each project so they could recruit others to help.

Coaching Challenge: 

When you feel overwhelmed by various activities, rank each activity by using the note card system described above. Write each activity on a note card and place each card by level of importance. The one on top is the most important followed by less important priorities.

Determine how much time you anticipate having available for these activities and split your time accordingly.

Sheri Fisher is a life coach in Grand Junction. The situations and characters in her column have been altered in order to maintain client confidentiality. Go to for more information.


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