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Are you too available?

Email is such a great thing, right?  We can get work done essentially anywhere, and we can connect with our friends, teams, and colleagues at any time of the day or night!  And we don’t even need a computer to be accessible via email – email is on our phones too!  🎉 😊

Texting is awesome!  We can contact others, and others can contact us, literally anytime, regardless of what other important things we’re doing!  Now we even get those subscription-style emails via text!  🎆 😂

And video conferencing!  WOAH.  Now we can spend even more time in front of our computers!  🤸‍♀️🙏

We can be contacted in SO many ways: 

  • Email.  
  • Our phones we carry with us at all times via calls and texts.  
  • Facebook groups.  Facebook messenger.  Instagram messages.  FB and IG tags.
  • LinkedIn tags.  LinkedIn messages.  
  • Other social media and messaging.  

 

We have SO many opportunities for our minds to be somewhere other than where our feet are.  

We are SO available. But are we too available? 

It’s no wonder we’re so tired – our brains never get a break!

When I struggled with chronic exhaustion, I felt like I was missing my life.  My mind was so busy, and I was so tired.  I never felt fully present, and I didn’t have any energy.  

Fatigue isn’t just physical.  Fatigue is also mental and emotional.  

Being accessible as often as we are is mentally and emotionally fatiguing.  By becoming too available all of the time, we never get a break. When your mind is not where your feet are or when you’re not fully present in the moment: it can be exhausting.

When I struggled with chronic exhaustion, I felt like I was missing my life.  My mind was so busy, and I was so tired.  I never felt fully present, and I didn’t have any energy.  

Fatigue isn’t just physical.  Fatigue is also mental and emotional.  

Being accessible as often as we are is mentally and emotionally fatiguing.  By becoming too available all of the time, we never get a break. When your mind is not where your feet are or when you’re not fully present in the moment: it can be exhausting.

Being too available is mentally exhausting.

Have you perhaps made yourself too necessary?  

Do you feel like you’re failing your people if you take a break?  

Do you catch yourself apologizing if your response to a text or email wasn’t immediate, even if the initial message wasn’t urgent? 

This might be for you, then. 

If you often feel tired, or if you’re starting to feel burned out, you may have made yourself too available.  Being too available only hurts you.

You may have robbed yourself of the ability to be where your feet are.  Perhaps your mind is always on because you’re always accessible.  

Maybe you’ve elevated being responsive over being restored.  Perhaps you feel like you’d let people down if you took a break if you weren’t available and responsive. 

Even important people take the time to withdraw. They are not too available.

Whether you share my faith or not, I think we can agree that Jesus Christ was an influential man.  If Jesus were here today, he’d be an “influencer” with roughly a gazillion followers on Instagram.  He had a large following, and there were a LOT of people who wanted and needed things from him.  

And yet, when he needed to, Jesus made himself unavailable.  

Recently I’ve noticed examples in scripture where Jesus withdraws to spend time with the Father, to spend time in prayer, to spend time restoring his spirit.  

He just leaves!  Peace, out! 

Here we have a pretty necessary dude who just withdraws when he needs to withdraw so that he can rest, restore, pray, and spend time with his Father.  

And he does so without worrying about being available or responsive. 

He doesn’t set up out-of-office replies.  He’s not worried about the emails waiting for Him or the texts or social platform messages that need answers.

How to establish boundaries around your availability; so you do not become too available.

Certainly, there are situations in which we need to be responsive and available – like for our children and families and in certain professional situations. 

I’m not suggesting that you should withdraw without managing expectations.  

What I am suggesting is we take intervals of intensive rest when we need them. Then take regular intervals of proactive rest each day, each week, each month, each season, and each year.

For most of us, most of the time we have created a context in which we have misperceived how necessary we are.  

In many ways, we don’t have appropriate boundaries, or if we do have boundaries we haven’t effectively communicated them.  

If you relate to this, there are steps you can take to take back your life. You can start protecting your ability to keep your mind where your feet are.

Here are four tips to restoring your energy by being less available in the areas of mindset, clarity, communication, and commitment.

 

1 – Mindset.  

Healthy boundaries start with your mind.  Right now, you are giving other people power over your work-rest cycle.  Start with your mind by taking that power back.  By shifting your perspective and taking control of when you are available, you can set healthy boundaries around your time.  

Only you can choose to value the quality of your energy over the speed of your response.

Choosing to have boundaries around your availability makes it possible to bring your best energy to your interactions.  It makes it possible to give your full and best attention in the present moment, which up levels your interactions, your productivity, and your joy.  

Reframe the boundaries concept.  You are choosing to bring your best during your available times so that you can and because you did restore your energy during your not-available times.  This is a good thing for literally, everyone involved.  You’re not shorting anyone by being less available.  You’re improving the quality of your interactions when you are available.  

 

2 – Clarity.  

Decide when and how you will be available to the different people in your life, and write it down.  Be very specific and very clear.  Establish criteria for responsiveness based on the person and the nature of the contact.  

We all have different categories of people in our lives; we also receive different types of contact and content.  There are only so many hours in the day, and there is only so much quality attention you have to give. Getting clear on when and whom you will respond to will not only help reduce the fatigue associated with always being available. But will also relieve the guilt you may feel about being available only at certain times via certain communication channels.

 

3 – Communication.

Communicating your boundaries to your people is the most challenging of the steps.  People all have expectations.  With clear and firm communication with both your words and your actions, you can manage expectations.  

Bear in mind that you do not have to explain why your boundaries are what they are.  

Which one sounds less energy-draining?

1 – “I don’t attend online workshops or events after 8 pm except in special cases because I get up super early and it will disrupt the rest of my week, and I’m really diligent about my rest so that I can bring my best energy during the day…” 

2 – “I’m not available at that time, but I’m sure it will be a great event!”  

Which one of these statements sounds less energy-draining?

1 – “I don’t respond to texts with information about your results or recommendations, nor do I provide complex nutritional coaching via text or social media messaging. Because it takes so much longer than being able to type on a keyboard, and I’m usually in the middle of something else when I receive your text so, it may be half-baked…”

2 – “I’ll respond to your question via email when I can give you and your question my full attention.” 

The second option is clearly less exhausting for everyone involved.  

Your boundaries are yours. They are based on what you have on your plate, your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. They don’t have to make sense to or apply to anyone else.

Maybe, someone else could do everything you have on your plate with less rest or greater availability. But they are not you, and you are not them.

You and your needs have absolute value, not value compared to anyone else.  It is irrelevant what someone else can “handle.”  

Further, if someone resents or becomes irritated with your boundaries, it’s likely because they don’t have them.  That isn’t someone you want to be like, and maybe not someone you need in your circle.  

Taking regular intervals of rest and being less available is about protecting your energy, your productivity, your sense of peace, and your joy.  

When you are less available to all, you can be more fully present to and with the important few.

My friend, you are one of the important few. 

 

4 – Commitment.

Last week, one of my business mentors invited me to co-moderate on Clubhouse with her.  …at 8 pm on a Friday.  

Now, I’m a professional speaker who owns a growing business.  By all accounts, I should take the opportunity to be on Clubhouse with someone whom I love and respect, who has a robust following.  

But I know that I don’t bring my best energy that late in the day.  I’m an early riser, generally my most productive early in the day, and a morning person.  (One of those cheerful morning people, too.  #notsorry)  

By 4 pm, my brain is like, “girlfriend, are we there yet?” and I just want to head to the box for a workout and spend the rest of the evening doing fun things.  Doing anything that requires brain power after 7 pm feels like someone is vacuum-like sucking the energy from me.  I can do it when necessary, but prefer not to when I have the option.  And if I do have an event late in the evening or at night, I know I need to rest in the days after.  

I respectfully declined but shared that I’d be thrilled to co-moderate with her earlier in the day, like over lunch.  

I communicated my availability (or, in this case, my lack of availability).  I stuck with my commitment to bring my best energy to my engagements.  I stuck with my commitment to take a rest before I need it and when I need it.  

Sticking to the boundaries you identify in step 2 protects your energy and your joy. It prevents you from feeling resentful, angry, or taken advantage of.  

Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’  

You’ll be physically, mentally, and spiritually healthier when you do.  

Books I recommend:

If you struggle with this, I highly recommend the following books:

Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan

Health > Availability

Being healthy and fully present is infinitely more important than being constantly available and instantly responsive.  

Withdraw when you need to withdraw.  Rest when you need rest.  

And more importantly, be proactive about setting boundaries around your availability.  

You don’t just drink water when you’re thirsty, you drink it before you’re thirsty to avoid becoming dehydrated.  

The same is true of the rest.  Setting boundaries around your availability is like drinking water to prevent dehydration.  

You set, communicate, and commit to your boundaries to prevent exhaustion and burnout, not just in response to it.  

Your mind needs rest as much as your body does.

Stop being so available.  Start being present for what is truly important.  

This will help you get your energy back and stop missing your life.

Optimal is possible! 

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