Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all of the plates you’re trying to keep spinning?

If so, you’re not alone. Between our work projects, extracurricular responsibilities, time spent investing in relationships, many of us feel overwhelmed by all of the tasks and responsibilities on our plate. In fact, nearly half of the American population feels more stressed than they did five years ago.

The paradox is that in our effort to maximize our effectiveness and impact (personally or professionally), we commit to so many things that we end up crippling our effectiveness and impact. When we say “yes” to everything, we end up not doing anything well.

3 Ideas for Those Tired of Trying to Keep All the Plates Spinning

So how do we overcome this issue? How do we eliminate the exhaustion we feel by trying to keep all the plates spinning? Here are three ideas I try to keep in mind:

1. Remember that Pruning is Necessary for Growth

Everything we have that is of value has come from being willing to end something that we were doing and go to the next step.

In his book, Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud makes the argument that we must be able to let go of certain relationships, practices, and phases to create a sustainable rhythm of life.

Dr. Cloud’s key metaphor comes from the world of gardening. A healthy, vibrant, blooming rosebush is beautiful but does not come into being without immense effort. The key to a healthy rosebush: pruning. Getting to the next level always requires pruning, ending something, leaving it behind, and moving on.

2. Identify the 3-4 Essential Responsibilities that will Help you Achieve what you want to Accomplish

There are so many things in our lives that truly are not essential to what we want to accomplish. Whether it is an invitation to an event that we accept out of guilt, or taking on a project at work that does not help us achieve our overall objectives, we all have numerous things that we are faced with every day that are not essential.

In his book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown encourages us to identify the “vital few” responsibilities that will actually take us where we want to go from the “trivial many” that are wasting our time.

Taking time to identify the three to four “big rocks” that will lead us towards what we’re hoping to achieve ultimately will give us a plumb line to measure against all the plates we’re trying to keep spinning.

3. Quit something this Thursday

This is an idea author Bob Goff became famous for after explaining that he uses the idea to quit something every Thursday as a way to force himself to shake things up and bring change. For example, one Thursday he quit leaving phone messages. Another Thursday he quit having an office.

“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.” – Bob Goff

Whether you pick Thursday, or Friday, or Monday it doesn’t matter. The idea is to get into the habit to quit doing the things that hold you back.

Remove a Few Plates Before They All Come Shattering Down

Do you ever feel like you’ve got too much on your plate right now? Look at your project list at work and wonder, “How the heck am I going to get all of this done?” When someone asks how things are going, is your first response, “busy”?

If so, my hope is that this post would challenge you to think differently about how you approach the things on your plate.

What are some other ways we can overcome some of the pressure of keeping all the plates spinning?