We’ve all said the killer words “just one more thing.” When it comes to eating “just one more thing” those words lead to a waistline of regret. When it comes to our schedule, they wreak havoc and keep us in the land of overwhelmed.

Are You a “One-More-Thinger”?

A One-More-Thinger is a person who is often running late, not because they don’t pay attention to the clock, but because they do and figure they can fit just “one more thing” in. Usually, they are good at estimating time and can finish that thing up and still make it out the door on time.

Unfortunately, sometimes that one more thing pulls them in to the point of distraction or goes much longer than they expected and puts them behind the clock.

You are a One-More-Thinger if your first reaction when you find yourself with a few extra minutes, is to convince yourself that you can fit just one more thing in. Before you know it, you’re pulled into another project and when you look up, you’re now late for the next meeting.

When you are a “One-More-Thinger “ you:

  • tend to multi-task, even when you know you shouldn’t,
  • have a long to-do list and you’re determined to check it all off,
  • keep yourself moving even when you desperately need a break,
  • are running yourself ragged with back-to-back activities

One-More-Thing is a Symptom of a Bigger Problem

Most times, we are pretty good at estimating how much time we have to do the things we need to accomplish. Trouble creeps in when we’re working on something new and have to guess how long it will take, or when we don’t account for the unexpected.

The tendency to pack our schedules doesn’t leave us room for error or creativity. We are so programmed to stay busy that we don’t know how to be at peace when we have a moment of free time.

One-More-Thing is a symptom of “busyness”. Not allowing room for down time affects our mental and physical well-being. Constantly being on the go makes it difficult to focus, process information, or engaging in creative thought. Instead of feeling relieved when we have free time we panic and rush to fill it in. Being busy has become a badge of honor.

For the individual, this can lead to being tired, drained and unproductive. For the team, it can create discord and a sense of resentment if one person is considered to have “free time” while others are overwhelmed with work. People fill in the gaps in their schedules so others don’t think they are slacking off. This is a recipe for burnout and dysfunction.

Avoid the “One-MoreThing” Trap

Give yourself a break. Instead of jumping to fill the space, be more deliberate in creating buffers on your schedule. This will make it easier for you to handle the bombardment of information and decisions that leads to you being overwhelmed.

Having “extra” time on your calendar gives you the opportunity to make better decisions and actually use the information that you spend all day shuffling.

LexisNexis conducted a survey in 2010 of 1,700 white collar workers across the globe (from the U.S., China, South Africa, the U.K. and Australia). Results showed that employees were spending about half of their workdays just processing and managing information instead of using that information to do their jobs. Half of those surveyed, shared that they were at their breaking point because of the constant avalanche of information.

Be Mindful. Mindfulness is the practice of keeping your attention focused on what’s happening to you in the present moment. It is maintaining an awareness of your current situation and not worrying about what came before, or what’s coming next. It can also include meditation, breathing exercises and other stress reducing behaviors that lets your brain rest. When your brain gets a chance to rest, it improves your processing skills, boosts productivity, and creates space for creativity.

Get in the habit of pressing pause and setting time aside to just chill. You don’t have to break out the yoga mat. It can be as simple as turning away from your screen for 5 minutes, closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths while you take note of how your body feels, what thoughts are passing through your head and your emotions in the moment.

If you want to be more deliberate, there are great tools and apps that can guide you through brief meditations to help you build the practice.

Create Buffer Zones. Avoid the One-More-Thing trap by creating buffers on your schedule. If you have to move around, block time on your calendar for travel. Make it an appointment sets apart time to travel (even if you’re walking from one side of the building to the other).

If you think something will take you 30 minutes, schedule 45 minutes so yo can adjust if tech doesn’t work or you get interrupted. One of my favorite ways to manage my calendar is by setting aside about 90 minutes a day for my most important work. I schedule that in the morning and protect it from interruptions. If I can focus and get my big things done, then I can be more flexible the rest of the day.

Stop cramming your schedule. Pick your 3 most important things to accomplish that day and focus on them. Managing the amount of activities you have planned is key to making the best use of time you actually have available.

If you end up with room on your calendar, consider using that time to work on your relationships, brainstorm new ideas or go outside for a walk.

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