What's on your plate?

person writing on paper with pen
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Have you ever heard someone say, “There’s a lot on my plate,” or “I have too much on my plate?”  Chances are you have even said it yourself.  This idiom generally means there is too much to do, too much going on, or too much to deal with in a person’s life.  In fact, we are all prone to times when we are stressed by the “busyness” of our lives. 

So, what is on your plate?  In fact, why not grab a paper plate and consider your own “plate of life” for a minute.  Take the paper plate and a pen and write down EVERYTHING you do in an ordinary week.  Go ahead, try it!  While you’re at it, include the things you may not do weekly but take care of often, like take the dog to the vet, pay bills, wash the car, etc. 

Once you have finished your plate of life, look at it and contemplate these questions:

  • Is your plate too full?
  • Is there too little on your plate to nurture you?
  • Are you always making room for more to heap on your plate?
  • Is there enough variety on your plate?
  • Is your plate satisfying to you?

Now, circle the things you’ve listed on your plate that bring you joy, or help you to relax or slow down.  When finished, ask yourself, “Am I happy with the things I do that bring me joy, relaxation, and fulfillment?” “Do I do them often enough?”  If your answer is no, consider how you can build in more time for yourself to engage purposefully in activities that balance your busyness.  You might also consider ways you can reduce the amount on your plate by prioritizing, delegating, or even letting go or saying no whenever you can.  If reducing what is on your plate is not an option in your life right now, make sure you address your own needs too and seek the support you need from others. 

Author:  Molly Hofer, Extension Educator