Do You Suffer From “Over-Commitment-Itis”?



Do You Suffer From “Over-Commitment-Itis”?

Attention all: “over-commitment-itis” is not a new condition, but it is one with which I was just self-diagnosed.  While rarely diagnosed, it is a seemingly pervasive condition among many in our profession.

Studies have shown that a few of the symptoms are as follows:

  • 24-hours is not enough time in one day.
  • You have more than one professional event (in addition to your real job) a day.
  • You are a member of so many boards or committees that you need a notebook to keep it straight.
  • Your reimbursements folder looks like George Costanza’s wallet. For those of you who are not familiar with this symptom, please see the following YouTube link
  • You find yourself running ideas for your committee work past your kindergartner and toddler at the supper table.
  • Your spouse, significant other, parents and/or close friends ask what conference you are required to attend this week and how many days you will be gone.
  • You sleep 2-5 hours a night – if you are lucky.

If you suffer from these or other symptoms, you are also likely to be diagnosed with “over-commitment-itis.”  But, don’t fret.  “over-commitment-itis” is not fatal, and can be self-treated.  To properly treat this condition,  take time out to:

Prioritize and cut

  • Make a list of each thing that you have to do every day – i.e. work, sleep, shower, eat, spend time with spouse/kids/family (“necessary commitments”).
  • Make a list of all of your “voluntary commitments” (i.e. committees, boards, conferences, social events, etc.) When doing so, think of how much time each day/week/month/year you need to give to these “voluntary commitments” to do a really good job.
  • Then compare that with the amount of actual minutes there are in each day/week/month/year and subtract the number of hours you must dedicate to your necessary commitments. If your “voluntary” commitments add up to more time than you have after subtracting the necessary commitments – then something has to go.  Figure out which one of your voluntary commitments is your least enjoyable/beneficial and wish it well as you say goodbye or see-you-later.

Go analog

  • I find that an actual analogue calendar/to do list in conjunction with my digital ones are really beneficial.  Take a look at this website, and see if this would help you too:

Plan in advance

  • Block off time for important events well in advance, and guard that time fiercely.

Say “no”

  • This is a really had thing for someone with over-commitment-it is to do, but you must learn how to say “no.”


  • Delegate – or try really hard to delegate…baby steps are OK. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Ask for help

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This can be in your personal life, in your work life, or on your boards or committees.


  • Meditate if that is your thing…you know this mindfulness thing is all the rage. If meditation is not your thing, but you want it to be your thing, try guided meditation.  Here is a link to an app that I have found helpful.  (Thank you to Nora Riva Bergman for telling me about this app).
  • Make time for yourself (even if it is just once in a while).

Those of us with over-commitment-itis must unite.  If we unite, we can work toward a cure – or at least share a cocktail when times get tough.

Melanie Chung-Tims
Self Diagnosed over-committer 

Melanie Chung-Tims is a partner at Bice Cole Law Firm P.L. in Miami, Florida practicing in Products Liability and Toxic Tort Defense.

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