• Sometimes you have just too much going on. Especially if you are a highly sensitive person, there are times when you need to decrease your workload and increase your downtime. The goals, expectations, and standards under which you operate may or may not fit your energy level, values, or the amount of support available. If it’s time to make adjustments, here are eight tips on pacing for the HSP, a potpourri of options, some for home, others for the workplace.

  • 1. Increase the time-frame for completing a project.

    In the past you may have promised a specific turn-around time at work or at home. Can the time-frame can be re-adjusted to the sanity/ reality level? Be sure to explain how the change benefits both you and others.

  • 2. Reduce the size of the project or frequency of an activity.

    Have a potluck instead of a sit-down dinner. Gift shop online instead of the mall. Buy extra dish towels, bath towels, or socks if they will help you stretch the time between laundry days.

  • 3. Brainstorm new schedules with friends and family.

    If you are concerned that others will be disappointed with your new routines, take time to express your friendship and affection. Tell them that you are changing, your responsibilities have changed, and that you want to continue the friendship or family visits.

  • 4. Enlist help.

    If this helper is your spouse or partner, remember to:

    • Ask courteously. Some begin a request by insulting or criticizing first to demonstrate how worthy they are, what a dope their spouse is, and why the spouse should now be willing to help. Bad plan.
    • Be open to the information that the spouse is also overloaded, but has not told you the full extent.
    • Notice good results, not just perfect results; tell him or her about what a difference it makes to you.
  • 5. Delegate duties.

    Perhaps it’s time to talk to your boss, and suggest expanding the department and adding an assistant for you. Such a request may not be green-lighted immediately.

    If it’s granted at all, it may have to wait until the next budget cycle. In the meantime, you may be able to hand off some things that you had been doing.

  • 6. Hire it done.

    Another option is to hire work done at home or for your home-based business. If you lack the skills, tools, willingness, or time to do particular job, it’s not selfish or extravagant to hire lawn care, household cleaning, a painter, repair person, or virtual assistant.

    Maybe it will be just until you regain your full strength after an illness. Or, perhaps this is a period of increased hours or travel at work. If you can reasonably afford it and it means that you no longer feel stretched and stressed, it may be the key to better health and an increased sense of life satisfaction for you and the people around you.

    The point is not to continue overworking and over-stressing past the point of no return, where your health, productivity, or ability to control your mood begins to unravel.

    Calgary psychologist Patricia Turner writes:

    Learning how to “pace” one’s activities requires behavioural changes. Doing more physical activity than a person is capable of will lead to a flare-up for individuals with chronic pain. Similarly, working flat out to achieve a goal or meet a deadline can lead to burnout for individuals that are prone to overworking themselves…

  • 7. Rethink your standards.

    Will the world end if you fail to have a prize-winning rose, the most comprehensive thesis in the history of your department, or the cleanest windows on the block? What else comes to mind? What activity has lost the joy it used to provide and turned into a burden?

  • 8. Under-fill your calendar.

    Many HSPs choose, often after learning what doesn’t work, to streamline and simplify their lives. They don’t necessarily live monastically, but they leave time for quiet hours and quiet pursuits.

    These HSPs don’t fill their calendars to the max. They choose what has the most meaning, allows the most time with those they love, and the activities they most enjoy. That’s what I would wish for you.

  • More tips on pacing for the HSP

    You'll find the entire series on goal-setting here. There are tips for staying on task and being more successful in meeting your resolutions. Plus ways to balance life's domains...home and family, work, health, etc.

    Authenticity Coaching offers teleconference courses and HSP coaching for the highly sensitive person. This is the third of six posts on goal-setting for the HSP.