Capacity: Knowing Your Limits, Finishing Well & Avoiding Holiday Fatigue

At the beginning of the fall this year, I had the joy of giving a talk to a group of women about marketing and sharing their business in a way that was reflected the energy and values of their business brand/personality. It was a fun and engaging talk with a wonderful group of women. I left feeling that sense of happy-tired.

Later that evening,  I was scheduled to attend a networking event. After spending the rest of the day in different activities, I headed for the meeting, ignoring the sense of fatigue that was creeping up on me.

That was a mistake.

By the time I arrived, I could sense my energy was way, way down. Not even a cup of coffee perked me up! When it came time for me to present, I felt like  wet noodle, I don’t think I even made a lot of sense.

I had exceeded my capacity, “the ability to do, experience or understand something,” (Oxford Dictionary).  I should’ve taken an evening of recuperating time to prepare for the rest of the week, not continue on to the network activity. Lesson learned 🙂

Small business owners have an amazing capacity levels. We often do and get done more than we thought we could and amaze those around us with our ability to keep going. But this ability to work hard can also wear on us. We can lose our ability to correctly define what our capacity is and to have the discipline to stop, rest and refuel when we peak off, resulting in exhaustion, a fight with loved ones or other unpleasant results.

The holiday season can be a time where we can experience burnout, fatigue, distress, discouragement and a host of other negative emotions if we don’t keep an eye on our capacity level and recharger our proverbial battery.

Capacity is essential, not only in our personal lives, but in our business too. We need to know what our business has the capacity to do and what will run us over the edge of sanity. It’s important to reach far and dream big, but when you start feeling irritable with everyone and absolutely miserable in your work and with yourself and family, it’s a good time to check your capacity level. Do you need a break? Do your employees need a time to refuel?

autumn leaves capacity blog post

The theme of capacity has been on my mind a lot lately. I want to achieve a few significant things before 2017  finishes out, yet I know my tendency to do too much can spread me out thin where I get nothing done well. Here’s what I’m doing to stay within my capacity level this season.

Managing Capacity: Keeping You and Your Business Energized

How do you manage what you are able to do and influence?  How do you bounce back when you realized you’ve been running at over-capacity for some time?

A Day of Rest: Capacity is often affected by how I’m resting on the down time.  Taking a Sabbath one day a week where I don’t check email or indulge in social media and spend the day reading, reflecting, taking long walks, spending time with friends and family and going to bed earlier has been  instrumental in helping me connect with what is most important.

A byproduct of taking a Sabbath, a day of intentional rest, prepares me to work at my full capacity in all areas of my life: business and personal for the coming week.

It’s amazing how much a day can do for your life. If taking a whole day off from work seems too much, start with an intentional half day and go from there. There’s some wonderful books that can guide you through this process. I’ve started reading Shelly Miller’s book, Rhythms of Rest. Another great book is  Wayne Muller’s “Sabbath.”


The holiday season is a wonderful time to start a time of rest, keep a list of things you are thankful for and the lessons learned. Light a candle, look out a window, take a walk. Breathe in the beauty all around.  This has been a hard lesson for a busy bee like me to learn, but once I settled into the habit, it has been a source of contentment and joy.

 Know Personal Limits and Respect Them: The speaking engagement stacked on a networking event taught me something about my personal capacity. When I speak, I don’t schedule other extroverted activities on the same day! Sometimes it takes these uncomfortable experience to learn where our personal boundaries are.

We’re all different and we have different capacities.  I’ve had to work on not comparing myself to others, but staying in my own lane.

Placing Boundaries on Business Growth:  There’s a difference between setting monumental goals and achieving them for a purpose vs. getting bigger for the sake of getting bigger, for the sake of ego. The latter is eventually a killer, especially for women.

Putting up boundaries of what we will and will not take on in business is a great way to measure capacity.  I started putting on workshops this year and it has been a great way to evaluate what is too much, what is a good amount and where I can do more.

This isn’t a post about saying no or settling, instead my goal is to finish well in the things that really matter. Let’s aim high for finishing the year well. Batch your work (there’s a blog post coming up about that!) so you get a lot more done in less time, make sure you put the important stuff on your calendar: date nights, quiet nights under the Christmas tree, a Thanksgiving baking day, volunteering at the Food Bank, seeing the kids (or nephews or grandkids) plays, finishing that big project that will propel you into 2017 with a flourish.

It’s not about doing it all, but doing what is most important. And to do that, we’ve got to make sure we are staying within our capacity, maintaining our energy and taking care of ourselves.

I’d love to know…..what are you doing to maintain your energy and avoid going over-capacity this holiday season? Leave a comment below.

Here’s to the very best holiday season yet.


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