Have Too Much On Your Plate?

So, are you busy like most people these days? I often feel like the circus performer who spins plates on those long poles. It’s all fun and games until you add one more plate and all of them come crashing down!

Do you even know everything you have on your plate? That might seem like a weird question. But, sometimes, we have so many things going on at once, we’re not fully aware of all that we do.

Why do I bring it up? Well, when you take stock of what’s going on in your life, it might help you ease some of your stress and achieve a better balance. How? By creating a picture of your life that includes all the roles you play, you can actually see where you can get support (think life-lines), and where you experience conflict (think stress).

Do you want to see how this works? OK, grab a piece of paper. Down the side of the page, make a list of all the roles you play in life. It could be anything – artist, daughter, writer, mom, cook, teacher, partner, etc. – whatever you do that makes you who you are! Have you written your list?

Now, draw a circle in the middle of the page. This is your plate. Using the last month as your guide, divide the plate into pieces that represent each of the roles you listed. Now, don’t just base the size of each piece on how much time you spend in the role. Try to measure how much this role is a part of you. This is important.

Take a look at your plate. What does it look like? How many pieces do you have? What are your biggest pieces? This will give you a sense of what things are most important to you. So, how does this relate to stress?

Let’s consider two questions:
1. How do your roles compliment each other? Most of us play many different roles at home, at work and in other aspects of our lives. I LOVE to multi-task – I thrive on my various roles (business owner, coach, daughter, facilitator, friend, speaker). Many of us are enriched and excited by variety. Also, when things aren’t going well in one role, your other “pieces” can still be satisfying.

Now, consider:
2. How do your roles conflict with each other? It’s often in these conflict zones that we experience the most stress. It’s the plate spinner all over again! Usually, we experience stress, but don’t the take important step of really identifying what’s causing the conflict.

So, pick one of your conflict zones. What is ONE thing you can do in the next week to manage your response to this source of stress?

Consider trying a new physical stress release technique (shoulder roll, neck stretch, or deep breathing). Managing your physical response to stress is just one strategy – probably the most familiar of methods. But, did you know that you can “think” your stress away? Drop by again to find out how talking to yourself can be a great way to reduce your stress.

Until then, breathe deeply … relax your shoulders … let your concerns float away!

Author's Bio: 

Colette D. Ellis is a Coach, Consultant, and Speaker. As Founder of InStep Consulting LLC (www.instepconsulting.com) in New York, she helps people and organizations discover their competent advantage™ via Team Building seminars and Strategic Planning retreats. She bases her intuitive approach on nearly 15 years leading creative and engaging programs for government, not-for-profit and corporate organizations across the United States. Her expertise includes Career Planning, Leadership Development, Stress Management, Team Building and Workplace Diversity. Her signature seminar, Discover Your Competent Advantage™, helps people identify and leverage their strengths to succeed in the workplace. In 2008, Colette joined a select group of national facilitators for Turning the Page: Building Your Library Community, a unique leadership program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2006, The Consultation Center of the Yale University School of Medicine certified her to facilitate Coping with Work & Family Stress™, a work-life balance program.