3 Things I Learned About Taking On Too Much, by P. L. Cobb
Articles, General Writing

3 Things I Learned About Taking On Too Much

It’s something we all have to learn at one point or another, how am I any different? A part of me thought she was exempt from this rule. Big mistake! Well, here I am two years later, and I’d like to say that I’ve learned a few things. I mean, during those two years I was constantly thinking about Rule of 3, which is essentially my baby. It would be a shame if I gave up so soon!

Before I Continue, A Refresher:

If you’re new to Rule of 3 you may have noticed that we took a REALLY LONG hiatus. That was say, back in 2018? It’s been almost two years since I scheduled a post, and I’ll be honest: I had more than enough time and opportunity to do so. Both Rhonda and Mitchell have work in the drafts folder. What would it have taken to just schedule one of their amazing works?

Not much, really, but this post isn’t about motivation. It’s about knowing your limits and setting healthy expectations for yourself — and there’s a lot to learn on that front, at least for myself.

I Burned Out For Almost 2 Years

There’s no other way to explain it: in 2018 I took on too many projects. I was ambitious, but I was also working full time, was writing three books, was putting time into my relationships, was creating art … And I was about to learn about burn out. I thought I knew what it was before, but that lesson had yet to sink in.

Let me tell you: IT SANK IN FOR NEARLY 2 YEARS.

When you’re burned out there are only a few options (and this is from my experience of burnout, it could be different for everyone): you can keep on going and make the problem worse, or you can drop everything and focus on what’s important. Being well acquainted with the toll that stress had had on me in the past I chose the last option.

Everything was dropped, and I focused on my job and my relationship.

Was it difficult?

No, but also yes. Again, I’m ambitious, I like to do things — I like to be busy. However in the past I’ve learned that being busy does not necessarily equal being productive. That’s an important lesson to learn in your twenties. Great. Cool. When I was around 25 I learned that your self-worth isn’t determined by how busy or productive you are. Another important lesson learned. Yes, indeed, much wow! What other people think of me can throw itself in the garbage, because I know that I am only responsible for myself. Amazing! I mean it, knowing this makes all the difference in the world.

There’s a problem though: I have very high expectations for myself to succeed …

What Do High Expectations Have To Do With Anything?

My childhood is not something I blab about to strangers these days, because it doesn’t define me, and it’s personal: normally you keep the personal things to yourself. With that in mind I’m going to tell you something that affected my childhood in a very profound way:

My father was a narcissist. He still is. Nothing I ever did was good enough. He would criticize me for holding the broom wrong … Most parents are thrilled to find that their children are willing to help with household chores. Well, not my father.

I was never a problem child either. Sure, I had problems (look up childhood depression), problems that could have been helped by a child counselor — which existed, and were accessible at the time — but my father never took that route. He would get angry and yell at me for small things. I was too afraid to do anything. Everything I did was also wrong, so I just never bothered to try.

Not trying meant that I was lazy, just like my mother.

I was too quiet and closed off. Much like my mother. That meant that there was something wrong with me, and it was my fault. Why was I pushing my dad away?

Being like my lazy, child abandoning mother was bad. That made him angry.

I was overweight even though I wasn’t. He told me so while I was hanging out with two of my friends. We were splitting a soda between the three of us. No offence but your dad’s an asshole! one friend told me. She wasn’t wrong.

I know your body! he said to me once, making me feel ill afterward.

I was a prostitute because I cut my hair once. How dare I do something to my hair without his permission.

I endured a lot of emotional and mental abuse from that man, and it left me scarred.

For the record, I did not hold the broom wrong. I was not overweight. I could do whatever the hell I wanted with my hair. And my mother never meant to abandon me.

In counselling (the dirty word that’s not dirty at all) I learned two things: I was not very kind to myself, and my expectations were unrealistically high. Being so hard on myself, for so long, had finally taken its hard toll on me — just as things were beginning to get better — which still frustrates me to this day.

I had ideas, but no real plan on how to act on them. Limitations weren’t something I often thought about, and I still had it in my head to crank out content. Content is king after all!

Thing #1: Know Your Limitations

Limitations aren’t fun; they tend to put a damper on things. We’re all human though, and we can’t do everything. If you’re unsure about you’re limits the first thing I would suggest you do is look at things from a realistic stand point.

Take into consideration your schedule. What does your day look like, and how much time does it take for you to complete each task? Once you know what your day looks like, try to find out what your priorities are. What is important to you?

To know your limits you will also need to know yourself. For example: what causes you stress, have you been busy lately, when was the last time you had time to yourself, are you able to work with distractions, has something recently changed in your life? The more you come to understand yourself the better you will be able to work around those limitations. Essentially you’re learning how to work with yourself. When you take the time to do this you will figure out what works best for you.

Self care also falls into this area. Personally it would be awesome if I could go on with life without having to worry about things like mental health, eating right, or sleep. I get annoyed by it, which brings us back to the importance of being kind to one’s own self and holding realistic expectations. If you have to drop everything to take a break then you have every right to do so. You don’t have to do everything.

Thing #2: Plans Are Great

Plans, plans, marvelous plans! The thing that everyone tries to do but somehow never act upon! However, not all plans are created equally.

During my Enigmatic Monster days I tried publishing several blog posts a day. The traffic the blog received as a result was phenomenal, but I just couldn’t keep up the steam. After a month I had to slow down and focus on other work. I did learn something from it: it’s a great idea to have extra content made in advance. To do this you need the time though.

Rule of Three is powered by a team of three writers. Rhonda and Mitch are volunteers, so I can’t expect them to write a 1,000 word essay everyday. Hell, I can’t even do that. Sure I could crank out ten free form poems in a row, but at some point the quality is going to suffer. While on hiatus I found out that the people who make the Late Show a possibility take a break to work on new content. For some reason I had never heard of that before and I was spellbound! I didn’t know TV people could do that!

If TV people could do that, why not blog people?

What if Rule of Three worked for several months on, and then took several months off to attend to other matters? That would give Mitch and Rhonda a break, and I could focus on different matters. And if Rule of Three also had an arsenal of content made in advance then everyone could rest a little easier, no?

I don’t know about you but that sounds like a plan is about to be born, one which factors in our limitations as a team, and as individuals.

Now, what can you do to craft your own plan, based off of what you know about yourself?

Thing #3: Don’t Make Content That You Hate

Find something that you love, and it won’t seem like work.

Find something you hate, and you may end up dragging your feet.

In the real world we all end up doing work that we don’t enjoy at one point or another. That’s life. When you’re at home things could be different. If you’re like me (1 cat, 1 boyfriend, no kids) then you’re able to do what you want a lot of the time. Being able to do this is nice. You can create whatever you like if you’re a creative: write a book, paint, relax.

I took on a project that I actually grew to hate, the Late to the Party series. That’s the one where I read 50 Shades of Grey and made fun of it. It was going to be great. Little did I know that I would end up hating it so much. 50 Shades of Grey was awful and boring. Making fun of it is easy, watching reviews of it is easiest. Writing about it myself was torture. Ugh.

If I had planned things out a bit better maybe this could have been avoided? If I had just stuck with one long review I would have had more time to do the things I enjoyed. Well, life is a learning process. Yay! Now I have a better understanding of how I work and what I like. There’s a plan in the works.

2020 better watch out!

In Conclusion

Everyone has their own way of doing things. These three things are what I learned during my hiatus, and they may or may not do it for you. And that’s fine. At the same time I could also go into more depth and detail on how I work, but I don’t think that’s necessary.

If you got this far, I’d like to thank you for sticking through to the end. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments!

2 thoughts on “3 Things I Learned About Taking On Too Much”

  1. Thank you for this! About 2 years ago, I was in a position where I felt depleted. I said yes to anything asked of me at work and though I knew I was physically and mentally fatigued, I ignored those emotions and whatever my intuition was telling me. It’s been a long journey since, but I am getting myself back—in pieces, but still making a comeback. Again, thank you for this!

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