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How often do you overcommit yourself?

The most recent SmartBrief on Leadership poll question: How often do you overcommit yourself?

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How often do you overcommit yourself?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 200,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How often do you overcommit yourself?

  • All the time: I regularly take on more than I should: 32.88%
  • Sometimes: I can get overly ambitious from time to time: 48.08%
  • Not often: I generally do well to not take on too much: 16.10%
  • Never: I always manage my commitments rigorously: 2.94%

Biting off too much. 80% of you say you often bite off more than you can chew. It’s easy to add commitments only to find you have too many commitments. Each one seems like a small, marginal task that we can fit in given the other projects we’re working on. The problem is we forget all the other things that take up our time and energy (meetings, email, urgent issues, people development, etc.). In the grand scheme, those new projects don’t fit in easily.

The best suggestion I have is to pause before replying and accepting new work. Go look at your task list and your calendar. Identify exactly where the new project fits in. If there’s not an obvious space to place it, consider passing on doing the work. Better to do a few things well than many things poorly!


Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, which includes TITAN — the firm’s e-learning platform. Previously, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a West oint graduate and author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”