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Too busy or too challenged?

by Eve Ash

07 July 2011

Most women want more hours in every day - but that’s not going to happen, so we struggle, push, rush, squeeze and fight our way through the ever-growing to-do list and hopefully score a half hour here or there for some respite and enjoyment. Some of us rejoice in cancelled meetings just to regain control with delicious extra time – isn’t that sad!

But why do we do it? Why do we allow ourselves to get into this pressure cooker existence?
Why are we always juggling the things to be done and the challenges we all need?

Things need to be done
This is the busy work, the thankless tasks of maintenance and organising are a driving force. Why? Because when these things aren’t done chaos ensues. When things are not kept in order and up to date life starts to unravel. There is a critical need to have these maintenance tasks running smoothly. This includes everything from housework, to personal supplies, to organising holidays, organising kids, managing money, responding to family needs and the myriad of minor tasks around the office. The problem with these chores is that they take up time and they don’t provide a stimulating challenge.

There is some level of satisfaction to be attained by having everything in working order, but if this type of task dominates our day we soon feel unfulfilled and begin searching for more. This is where we being to look for the challenge.

The Challenge
When a woman with two children, who is studying for a Master’s degree decides that she wants to start work you have to ask what the underlying motivation is. This is the case with my daughter, who is one of those perpetual motion machines. Whilst she was being stretched with time due to the children, and was being challenged intellectually by the Master’s degree she still wanted more. It appears the one thing she craved in a world that demanded so much of her was new challenges. It is this constant pioneering and searching for novel stimulation that drives so many women to achieve great things. The balancing act, therefore, comes down to how those monotonous, thoughtless tasks are managed and shared amongst the people close to you in order to increase the amount of time dedicated to making life more interesting.

Doing less to do more
It seems like a simple equation doesn’t it? Cut down on the things you don’t want to do so much or get them done even more efficiently, and put more time towards the things that you want to do and are more fulfilling. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well for some reason we continually force ourselves into the very opposite state of being and I think it’s time to start looking at why! Why do we sabotage ourselves into a more stressful existence than what is required?

I think the real answer is to stop and take stock, focus on completion and ask for help.

1.    Take Stock
Examine how we spend our days, what we love and what we don’t. What can be done by someone else? Is there an option to make some changes? What is most out of balance and how can we best fix it? What has to be dropped form our delicate life equation?

2.    Focus on Completion
Instead of torturing ourselves about what we are not doing – we need to focus on completion and allow time to celebrate a task completed and well done. It’s such a great feeling to get those things done that gnaw at us as a to do – that we need to get those things off the list. Make that great effort to finalise unfinished loose ends whether they be at work or at home.

3.    Ask for help
We are not super human and too often we fail to recognise just how stressed we are. We don’t stop and take time to ask for help, to select carefully the right person to ask for help. It may just be someone to share what you have on your plate, to talk through the increasing demands to enable you to restore order and priority to your life mix.

If you are struggling – take responsibility and do something about it. Life is too short for stress!

Eve Ash is a psychologist and producer of more than 500 business films and a range of books and assessment tools.



  • Sue Averay

    Sue Averay 8 years ago

    It seems to me that this matter is an spect of the equality debate. Women are still struggling against earlier socialisation and feel they have to be able to do it all i.e. all the things women did traditionally in the domestic realm PLUS all the things men do in the public realm. Of course, as has been pointed out before, men have always ahd wives and personal assistants to help them! The younger women with whom I associate seem to be able to deal with this situation more comfortably and negotiate abetter balance.

  • Robin Powis

    Robin Powis 8 years ago

    Hi Eve, great article! I was just about to write one very similar. As women we are our own worst enermy and we do need to ask for help to delegate household chores whether its from our partner, family or friends. Often we are running our own business or perhaps are the primary source of income and yet we continue with the household tasks.It is important that we have time to smell the roses sometimes.