Are You Putting Too Much on Your Plate?

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If you cram too much on your plate, you might get a stomachache. Wise decision making is necessary on the buffet line — and in real life.

turkey plate

Sometimes we act like life is Thanksgiving Dinner. We’re so worried that we’ll miss an opportunity that we heap things on. We fill our plates full and hope that we’ll still have room for dessert.

Some of those choices might be our very favorite things that we look forward to with gusto. Some of them might not be very good for us, but we want to enjoy them anyway.

Sometimes, it’s Aunt Viola’s Sweet Potato Olive Casserole that you don’t like, but accept because you’re afraid to say no.

Either way, sometimes we say yes, when we should say no.

This is life in the big picture. This is life on a daily basis.

If you put more on your plate than is good for you, more than you can possibly tackle in a day, chances are good that you’ll have a tummy ache before your plate is cleared.

Wise decision making is helpful when you’re planning your day as well as when you’re at the buffet line.

what's on your plate

So, how do you decide what goes on your plate?

1. Quantity

Consider how much time and energy you have at your disposal. There are only 24 hours in a day. You don’t get more than that, no matter hard you  try. Be realistic about what you can really do in a day, or in 8 hours.

Surprises will come your way and waylay your best laid plans. Trust me.

You might want to create a time budget as a way to allocate your hours or simply choose 3 to 5 important things that you can realistically accomplish.

You can’t get a bigger plate, so you have to choose wisely what fits on that plate.

2. Quality

Think of that buffet of meal choices. What are your favorite things? What are the foods that nourish you and give you strength? What benefits you?

Now apply those ideas to how you spend your time.

Don’t choose something that gives you few pleasures and little benefit. Don’t be afraid to turn down that sweet potato casserole you hate. Your time and your family are more important than whatever task you’re piling on when you really don’t have the time and energy to do so.

Prioritize. Find the most important items and make sure those make it on your plate before the less important tasks.

Tomorrow’s a new day.

The beauty of this analogy is that you get a new shot at daily life every day. It’s not Thanksgiving that comes only once per year. Every day is new.

Today may or may not go according to plan. But, tomorrow you get another shot at it. Don’t stress to make today perfect. Do the best you can.

Learn from yesterday (and today) to make tomorrow better. But, don’t give yourself a stomachache by overdoing today. That will just make tomorrow harder.

How do YOU decide what goes on your plate?

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  1. Ha, I didn’t know, from the title, if this would be a foodie post or a time management post, and it’s both! 🙂

    I try to plan my ‘extras’ by month. This month looks scary, but since I have very little choice in most of them, I’m just accepting that it’s what God has given me. If necessary, he’ll take a few things off my plate as the month goes on. Even so, I went to bed overwhelmed after posting my goals last night.

    But I’m sure focussing on ‘eating my frog’ first–and on little rewards like checking blogs after I’ve made a good dent in the day’s work.

    Off I go to make my shopping list for the morning’s dentist, grocery, and clothes-shopping expedition. My non-clothes girl wants clothes, and this is a rare opportunity so we’ll make the most of it.

    Blessings, and have a wonderful day with just the right amount on your to do list!

  2. I took the time a little over a week ago to sit down and chart out my hours from waking to falling asleep. It was an eye opening experience that really helped me decide what to eliminate and what to keep and just how much time I had to devote to my various priorities. It also made me see that I don’t have as much free time as I thought and I need to set smaller goals for things beyond blogging and homeschooling if I am going to succeed at them.

  3. Great post! I’ve been reminding myself lately that I have a lifetime to accomplish all of the things I want to tackle (learning how to sew and crochet; canning and food preservation; etc.) I don’t need to cram it all in right now!

    -Kerry @ City Kids Homeschooling

  4. I can never hear this too often. I’m a list maker, and often “to do” items get transferred from today to tomorrow. And then the next day, and the next day. Giving myself that kind of grace is important.

  5. Great post! I would like to add that this kind of time managing definitely has its place when living with chronic health problems. For instance, someone can have a certain type plan for “good” days and an alternative plan for “bad” days. There can even be separate sets of priorities (in serving family, cleaning, etc.)

    1. Great point! I call it my substitute teacher plan. When I was teaching they recommended that you keep a back-up plan in your desk that could work in a pinch for a sub. You need to have those days at home, too — with or without chronic health problems. Life happens.

  6. Thanks for a great read this morning. I’m a list girl. Just before bed, I jot out a list of things that I “must do” the next day. I’ve found that my list of maybe-dos and wannados are endless, but the must dos are manageable.

  7. This is something I need to always remember. I over-commit, I over-plan, I have pages full of to-dos that I never accomplish, because I feel like I just have

    If I broke things down, and learned to prioritize, I would be doing so much better! I love the plate analogy. Thank you!

  8. Any suggestions on how to keep things in balance when one area (work) seems to take more than its fair share of the plate? Sometimes it feels the only choices are to sleep less or skip exercise. Here’s hoping I’m missing the forest for the trees

    1. I think a time budget helps in this… and for me, learning that I don’t have to do all the laundry. I can chip away at it in the time I do have. Sometimes I get paralyzed by the idea that I can’t finish the project I start. But, starting it is good in and of itself.

  9. The title of your post made me stop for a moment to think, “Wow. Am I putting too much on my plate?” I am certain that I am, and am working through how to best manage my limited time so that I am focusing my time and attention on the things that make me the happiest. Thank you for the reminder that I need to say, “NO!” once in awhile. It’s a big no, because the little one means that I will probably get dragged into whatever it is anyway.

  10. What advice can you offer for mom’s who work outside the home? No matter how much you schedule it seems like you get nothing done. Any advice? 🙂

    1. I work a job (other than homemaking) at home, and I struggle to keep up. We’re alike in that. In your case, you can’t start a load of laundry and then take a business call. I would consider doing an audit of how you spend your time. Is there anything you can legitimately cut or delegate to someone else? Sometimes when we analyze how we spend our time, we realize that it’s not all important.

      1. Thanks…I spend more time trying to keep on top of everyone who should be doing something! A 14 year old and a 12 year old. It feels like it was easier when they were small. Tried the chore charts etc. Just end up doing everything myself. Husband works long hours.

        1. Yeah, I think the kids need to come to the plate. Literally. My older boys are 15 and 12. This year, they’ve started doing their own laundry and helping with meal prep in addition to keeping their rooms clean and cleaning a bathroom once a week. It definitely takes some teaching and reminding, but you can’t keep doing it all yourself.

          1. Will try that. Thanks again love your site lots of information. Going to try the freezer meals that will take a lot of stress off cooking big meals when I get home. Take Care! 🙂