Have you ever had the feeling of being constantly overwhelmed, having too much to do than is humanly possible to manage and did not have an idea about how to get out of the hamster wheel?
Probably a stupid question. In almost every call I have with business contacts (or even friends) I hear that the to-do list is longer than the day. Interruptions, unforeseen stuff and distractions do not improve the situation either.
And hey – I struggle with that too – so we are all sitting in the same boat.
About time to start doing something about it. Something that REALLY helps (disclaimer: I am not a magician – and if you expect a quick fix without doing anything you might want to stop reading. Can’t provide that.)
(Click on the pic to watch the video)
What? Yup. Just hit the brakes. And look at what you have to do. You might say, hey, Claudia, I’ve got so much to do…I can’t possibly stop!
Please do it anyway. The reason is simple: Take some time to untangle stuff, to see what you really have to do and to start prioritizing. Ah – you are doing that all day, does not help, as everything is important?
No, it isn’t and I will explain you why.
Identify the 5 needle movers in what you are doing now. Those things that really make a difference or deliver progress in your most important projects you are working on. Those which, when looking back, were crucial to get to the next level.
Great. Then plan those things into your calendar for the week. Yes, week, not just the day, as it gives you a much better contextual picture.
Now look at the other stuff you have to do. Ask for each and everything “why now”. If the answer does not jump in your face right away (somebody dies when you don’t do it, the company goes bust – I think you know what I mean), it is not urgent and can also be planned into the calendar at an appropriate time. Or indeed it can even be thrown out, as it might not even be important.
Remember: Important is what has an impact on your business and your objectives (or those of the company).
If everything is important AND urgent, you or your organisation has a major planning or communication issue – in that case come and talk to me. :-)
This is the one of the most underestimated measures to freeing up time (next to getting rid of distractions).
Sometimes we are actually even flattered to be asked to do something e.g. when we are asked to go to this important conference instead of our boss. Who would question the sense of that?
When you are overwhelmed already you need to take your pick to keep things moving AND you must make sure to get back to a more balanced workload. The risk of not doing so is experiencing a burn out.
So saying “No” is an effective way of doing what is needed and important whilst considering yourself. Put your ego to the side, and your overdeveloped sense of responsibility. You don’t have to do everything yourself.
Don’t apologize for saying “No”. Be honest and tell whoever brings something towards you that you are not in the position to overtake that task now, but you’d be willing to help in the future.
When it comes to saying “No” to your boss, leave the decision to him/her: “I’d love to do it however, I am busy with this project, would you like me to re-prioritize?”.
And in the end, saying “No” means being able to say yes to something bigger.
PS: I know it can be hard. And exhausting to be in that situation. Those are only two measures which can help you to tackle an acute overload. If you’re firefighting all the time or you are permanently overloaded despite those measures, it makes a lot of sense to take a closer look into processes, planning capabilities and communication in your company.
Treating symptoms helps for a while, but if the root cause triggers this again and again, that is something that has to be dealt with.
Want to help yourself getting control over your day and avoid getting into the above situation? Then have a look at the free training for a formula, that can help you individually or your whole team!