Multi-tasking is like living with a monkey on our back. Everywhere we go, we're burdened under the weight of our responsibilities, ones that we can't seem to shake. Then, while attempting to get everything done, we realize how hard things have become. But instead of letting those extras drop off, we keep trying to multi-task while telling ourselves that we aren't doing a good enough job juggling all the things on our plates. We turn an unwinnable situation—multi-tasking and juggling too much—into a proclamation that we are somehow incapable, too confused, or weak to handle things. In reality, the exact opposite is true. I'll explain...

Multi-tasking can rob our self-esteem and make us question our ability to act with conviction and strength. We take on too much and then when things go south, we blame ourselves instead of questioning why and how we ever thought we could do that much. It may not be that the task is too difficult for you. It may be that 20 of those tasks are too much for anyone!

Who are you when you are trying to be everyone?

Multi-tasking isn't that great for our minds either, and some research suggests that it can lower productivity by reducing our comprehension, attention, and performance. It turns out that switching our attention between tasks may mean we do none of them as well as we could if we focused on one at a time. Spending a focused amount of time on a task (say 20 minutes) may result in more productivity as we dial more deeply into that one task. Being mindful (there's that word again) and intentional about one task can help build mastery, self-esteem, and productive work habits.

The danger in telling yourself that you failed to get it all done, is that you are expecting yourself to do it "all" while being disadvantaged by the magnitude of the task(s). I'm going to share a few ways to lighten the load you carry. To do this, you'll have to get comfortable with (or deal with the uncomfortableness) of exerting your personal power. To start focusing on one singular task (or at least no more than two 😂), you'll need to start doing more of these three things:

  • say "no"
  • ask for help to get the support you need to get the tasks done
  • set boundaries with other people about expectations and communicate those boundaries clearly

All of these options rely on developing and utilizing your personal power. If you're a people pleaser, someone who sets very high standards for everything they do, or someone who always goes it alone and doesn't ask for help, this may be very challenging to accomplish. I think it's worth working on to reap the benefits: heightened self-esteem and self-empowerment, greater resilience and inner strength to tackle life, a healthier work/life balance, and an overall improved quality of life. Let's break these down further.

But first, a caveat: There are times when the need to multi-task is beyond your control. An example that I've been experiencing is taking care of my mom's ailing health. I can't walk away from the multi-tasking required to take care of her. Things like taking phone calls from the hospital in the middle of a business meeting, or traveling long distances to visit her on Sundays while trying to get through a long list of household chores. We can't be in two places at one time, so something on our to-do lists may have to suffer while we prioritize the urgent need. When reflecting on this type of multi-tasking, where you don't have much control over the demands of your time, I think the best thing you can do is be kind to yourself. Watch your self-talk, and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can in a difficult situation. You may not have excess personal power during these times, and that's OK. Save these ideas for another day when you have more agency and control of your life. And, remember that you have friends and a community who care about you.

🙅🏽‍♀️Say "No"

How are you going to reduce multi-tasking and the overwhelming juggling act? By saying "no." If saying "no" makes you uncomfortable, the best way to get to a "no" is to start with a "maybe" or "I'll get back to you." You are rarely required to make a decision instantly when presented with an option, so take some time to think about whether you want (or can) take the request on. Evaluate your options: Do you want to do it? Do you have time to do it? Do you want to say "no" but aren't sure how? This pause gives you some extra time to figure things out, especially how you want to say "no" to the opportunity.

Looking at additional to-do items as opportunities reframes things a bit and helps you recognize that you don't have to say "yes" to everything that comes your way. No matter what you decide, that little space and time you give yourself by saying "I'll think about it" lets you reason through whether this is a good thing to take on, and if not, how you want to deliver the "no." Once you've decided, it's time to exert your personal power and say "no." You'll find that as you do this, the world doesn't come to an end, you don't lose your friends, and you are not any weaker. In fact, by focusing your attention on tasks that give you the most reward (and the most bang for your buck) you are stronger in the end. That strength is self-made, and it feels good.

🆘Ask for Help

Do you believe you have to do things alone all the time? White knuckle it, push through, and make things happen without anyone else? I struggle with this too. In my case, it comes from an old limiting belief from my younger years as an only child living with a single, working mother. There were great stretches of time alone, and I somehow convinced myself (through self-talk) at a young age that I had to figure things out on my own.

Instead of correcting this view as I got older, I held onto it for a long time, before realizing that I could and should ask for help. This is a work in progress for me because at first, it can feel more difficult to ask for and get help than to try to do things on my own. The only problem with not spreading the work and responsibility is that things start to feel so heavy and burdensome. Also, when we don't ask for help, people around us think everything's fine, meanwhile, we're drowning in work and obligations that are sapping our souls. Pick a few items from your list that you feel comfortable asking for help on, and start asking family, friends, and coworkers for assistance. You might be surprised at how helpful people want to be when they know you need something.

⏹️Set Boundaries and Assert Your Personal Power

For inspiration on this action, check out my latest podcast episode on Manifesting Your Inner Lion. It's an inspirational episode designed to prime you to let your inner lion out!

We need boundaries in our lives. They serve as guideposts or perimeter fencing to protect our space, our lifestyle, and the way we want to conduct ourselves in the world. Everyone needs boundaries, and setting them is a reflection of your self-esteem and personal power. This article from the Science of People website does a good job of walking you through the steps of learning to set boundaries, so check it out. I'm here to inspire you to get started. Please remember that you can and should direct your life to suit your needs.

From the time we leave our homes in the morning to set out to work, school, or wherever else our to-do list takes us, we are faced with a multitude of opportunities to set boundaries. We may have to set them while commuting (carve out personal space while driving or using public transportation), while working (with co-workers, in team meetings, or with clients), or while at school (learning to navigate teacher expectations, in-class participation).

brown wooden fence on brown sands
Photo by Simone Dalmeri / Unsplash

As we set boundaries, we listen to our gut, our intuition about how situations feel, and how we want to move and act in them. These internal voices and feelings are vital, and we need to listen to them as they express our innermost desires for our own well-being. Once we know our inner feelings, we need to share them clearly with others so they understand. This doesn't mean they have to agree with our boundaries, although I think many people will. It means that we assert our needs clearly so that other people are aware of them, and we have the best chance of having our needs met. Check out these "How to Clearly Communicate Boundaries" scripts for examples of how to word these boundary statements, then test them out in your own life.

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Your Internal Self-Talk is Your Guide

Whether we are saying "no," asking for help, or setting boundaries, there is an ongoing assumption that we will be tapping into our thoughts and feelings about the tasks we take on and asking ourselves whether things are going the way we want them to. At the end of the day, asserting our personal power is an expression of our inner needs and the path that we want our life to take. We will have to defend and assert our right to have those needs met, but we can do so in baby steps. Try one of the strategies above and see how it feels. Once you are clear about what you want, you're halfway there. Envision a lifestyle that you want, be mindful of your choices, and give yourself enough time to consider actions before taking them. Then practice asserting your personal power using the strategies in this article. When you need some inspiration, listen to episode #5: Manifesting Your Inner Lion!

Close up of a lion roaring (photo with paint effect filter (podcast episode art for Let the Verse Flow)
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Journal Prompts (to help release your inner lion):

Here are today’s journal prompts. It's time to explore your strength, set your boundaries and envision a life that feels manageable for the lifestyle you most want for yourself. Think about your personal power, write about it, and share your thoughts with me. You can reply to this email, or reach out to me on Instagram. I'd love to hear about a time when you "roared' successfully.

  • Write about a time you “roared” and asserted your personal power. How did it feel at that moment and a few days later?
  • How can you build confidence in your ability to “roar” when needed to make your needs known?
LTVF Season One Music Playlist
LTVF Podcast Season One Music Playlist 💛Bob Marley & Wailers (Trenchtown Rock) –“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.” 💜Prince & The Re…

Listen to Katy Perry's song ROAR on the LTVF music to inspire your inner lion.

Curious & Contemplating

What I'm Listening to: The Emerald Podcast, which explores "the human experience through a vibrant lens of myth, story, and imagination." This is deep stuff, and I'm not always sure I understand it all, or even agree with some of the ideas on this podcast, but it's intriguing and exciting to contemplate. Host Joshua Michael Schrei explores topics like drumming and the trance state and why inanimate objects aren't inanimate. All episodes combine stories and music, so you know I'm into it. (Apple Podcast | Spotify).

Recently Read: The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin (musings on ways of seeing and being to nurture your creativity). I liked reading this slowly in small bites, especially first thing in the morning before the day gets too hectic.

What I'm Reading: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.

If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, you must accept the terms it offers you. (T.S. Eliot)

Journaling 101: An Inspirational Guide to Start (or Revive) a Practice
Whether you write, doodle, draw, or keep memorable quotes, journaling uncovers YOU. Let your unconscious mind speak, download my free guide.

Sign up for the Let the Verse Flow Newsletter and get access to all my articles, including this free journaling guide.

Gratitude Goes To...

Launching a podcast is exciting (even if a bit overwhelming). I could not have done it without the support of my family and friends. Even when I tell them about my wacky ideas, they support me without question. Also, folks on Instagram and other online places let me know they heard me. I'm trying to build a shared community, a place where you can fill your cup and find inspiration to move ahead. Please share the newsletter (and the podcast) with a friend or family member who you think would like it.

My love and thanks go to my beautiful daughter Miranda, Arthur, my mom, Shefali, Hilary, Wendy, Sierra, Renee, Sher, Jeremy, and Jessena. Thank you for telling me that I could do these things, that I could write these words, speak these poems, and share these beats with anyone who needed a touch of brightness.

Today's Photo

I wonder if Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat ever struggled to exert their personal power. I like to think that much of their personal power was expressed through their strong viewpoint as manifested by their art. What do you think? Reply to this email and let me know your thoughts.
Colorful wall mural of Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat on Mount Rushmore
Mural by Eduardo Kobra (Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat on Mount Rushmore (Chelsea, NYC). Photo taken by the author.

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Signing off for today. Until next time, don't forget to stay on the bright side of the beat. 🌞

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Let the Verse Flow is an independent publication launched in June 2023 by Jill Hodge. If you subscribe today, you'll get full access to the website as well as email newsletters about new content when it's available. Members are vital to building a rich community of diverse voices. Join us by subscribing today; consider a paid subscription to support the community if possible. Thank you!