If you’re like many people, your life is hectic and over scheduling is a constant worry. Teens are often extremely affected by this, as not only do they have their own schedules, but their family expectations as well. It’s a difficult habit to break, and can be detrimental to your psychological and physical wellbeing.

How do I know if I’m over scheduled?

“I would know if I’m too busy.” Not necessarily. Some of us like to be busy by nature, and don’t realize that things may have gotten out of hand. Here are some telltale signs that you are over scheduled:

  1. You don’t have time to see your friends.
  2. Your grades or work performance are suffering.
  3. You are having a hard time concentrating on tasks at work, at home and around the house.
  4. You are getting sick more often.
  5. You feel anxious or stressed out, and could be dealing with stress-related symptoms such as: headaches, stomach or digestive issues general unwell feeling, irritability, and sleep issues.

Can over scheduling REALLY harm my health?

Absolutely! All of the above signs can be detrimental if left unchecked.

One of the most physically and psychologically devastating symptoms of over scheduling is lack of sleep. When you sleep your body and mind have a chance to regenerate, and there is no substitute for sleep.

Depending on your age (15-24) you could need up to ten hours of sleep per night, with seven being the absolute minimum. The stress and busyness that accompanies over scheduling yourself can lead to insomnia; not giving your brain and body that chance to rest adequately can lead to some dire consequences.

  • Increased risk of causing or being involved in accidents. Statistics show that being overtired while driving is the equivalent of drinking and driving. Even a moderate loss of sleep can impair your ability to think, react, and make rational choices. Whether you’re on your way to work, or on the job, this is extremely dangerous for you and your co-workers.
  • Difficulty regulating your impulse control and behaviour. Most of us know what it’s like to be cranky after a poor night’s sleep. Moodiness, irritability, and poor decision making skills are consequences of being exhausted, and can lead to issues with co-workers, management, and customers on the job, while also increasing the risk of incidents and injuries. You will also be more likely to choose unhealthy over healthy behaviours and habits.
  • Engaging in risky behaviours. Some of the most surprising side effects of being over tired are substance use and abuse, and being more likely to engage in activities like unprotected sex. Even overuse of caffeine can affect your nervous system badly.

The consequences of over scheduling yourself.

Besides causing yourself or others harm, you may experience devastating losses when you have too much on your plate. Burn out is a real risk, and can drive you to quit some activities you used to love, altogether. When you miss out on activities or time to yourself, you may stop finding joy in anything you do. It’s not positive for your wellbeing to be so focused on completing tasks that you can’t experience enjoyable events or feelings that can occur in day-to-day life.

How can I stop over scheduling my life?

Sometimes it’s not an easy feat to change or even recognize the need to change how you’re operating, but here are a few ways to take back power over your schedule.

  1. Take stock of what’s important in your life. Healthy interests or activities that help you renew and refresh should take priority.
  2. Be honest with yourself and others about what you can get done in a day. Focusing on your most important tasks and set the others aside until you have time for them.
  3. Learn how to say no! Listen to your mind and your heart – before you accept an invitation or another item on your “to-do” list, as yourself if you really want or need to do it. If the answer is yes, then try and eliminate, or cut back on, something else for the time-being. Also, don’t feel obligated to pick up extra shifts at work if they are offered to you.
  4. Try not to multi-task as it can lead to half-finished projects, frustration, and a general lack of focus for the things require your full attention.