One more thing won’t hurt syndrome


Have you’ve ever said these words before?  One more thing won’t hurt.  I have many times.

I can get involved in another community project.

I can add another event into my week.

I can take on an additional ministry.

The problem is, in the majority of these situations, one more thing did hurt.

It led to higher levels of anxiety.

It led to hostility – blaming my overload on those around me.

It led to depression.

I call this the “one more thing won’t hurt” syndrome and it is prevalent everywhere.  We see it in our workplaces, our churches and our homes.

What is the solution to the “one more thing won’t hurt” syndrome?

Richard Swenson in his book “Margin” says:

“Each of us needs to seek his or her level of involvement and not let the standard be mandated by the often exorbitant expectations of others.” (pg. 59)

This is not easy but it is necessary.

Swenson goes on to say:

“We must understand that everyone has a different tolerance for overload and a different threshold level when breakdown begins to occur.  It is important for us to set people free to seek their own level.” (pg. 59)

This is very similar to Pastor Wayne Cordeiro’s principle of “The Plate” which states that every person has a certain-sized plate based on their skills, gifts, life season, health, etc. Not all our plates are the same size, and that is the way God designed it.

How can we determine our “plate” size and live accordingly?

1. We must choose and establish our priorities.

We must decide what is of most importance and if adding one more thing is going to affect our ability to achieve this we need to learn to say no.

2. We must learn the art of setting and embracing our limits.

We can’t do it all and we must embrace and accept that and live our lives accordingly.

3. We must learn not to overdraw on our accounts of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual energy. 

All of these accounts are finite.  There is a point when they will run out.  We must choose not to get to this point.


Do you suffer from the “one more thing won’t hurt” syndrome?  How do you decide the size of your “plate”?

RECOMMENDED READING: Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson

Categories: Leadership


  • Lynn Sanders says:

    We tend to take more and more work because we either want more money, or we just got into the rhythm. But what good are money for when you have no time to spend them and when you’ll pay for medicine in a few years just to be able to get by?

  • Steve-Personal Success Factors says:

    Hi, Kevin. I’ve started reading Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less, and it struck me how much he has accomplished while cutting out the non-essential activities in his life. It’s a simple concept, but not easy to wean away from. I’ve started identifying my priorities and will be cutting some activities going into 2012.

    • Hey Steve:

      It definitely is a revolutionary concept in our world of doing more and more. Sometimes we have to hit our breaking point before this sinks in.

      Thanks for sharing.


  • Loren says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I always enjoy reading your inspirational articles.

    It’s so important to know our limits, choose and establish our priorities and take every vital step to protect them otherwise we set ourselves up for overload. It took me a long time to learn to say “no” and not feel guilty about it. Now, I can graciously establish my boundaries and stick to them, thus focus my attention where it is needed most for optimum productivity on all levels of being.

  • Hello Kevin

    Another excellent post that really helps one to live a fruitful life. Not adding one more thing has always been hard for me. I reached a time when I had to let go of some things and the things that I continued became more fruitful.


    Perry A Davis Jr
    Music City

    • Hi Perry:

      Saying no is difficult for a lot of people. I know for myself it was difficult to say no because of my desire to please everyone. Unfortunately in my effort to please everyone I was overloading myself.

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Andy Nathan says:

    I always know when I overstep my limits, because that is the point where I completely lose my effectiveness as a business person and entrepreneur. More important I get burned out all around.

    • It is good to be able to be aware of the symptoms of overload. It has taken me 4 years to get to a point where I am beginning to recognize it more quickly.

      Thanks for sharing Andy!

  • Prem Gaire says:

    Give a f**k to every so-called ‘must-do’ thing which doesn’t serve any useful purpose! And you are done with this syndrome! 🙂

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