Whether you work for yourself or for an organisation, none of us are immune to work overload and being overwhelmed by it All.
I have been drowning recently. My Outlook calendar has exploded, with my head soon to follow suit. I have so many To Do lists that they have formed a brand new ecosystem.
I love my job but everyday at the moment I have a burning desire to jump out of the window. There must be an alternative route that leads to The Other Side, surely? Shirley?
Naturally I began by consulting Google. Unfortunately it is all very well hearing “Get good sleep” however when the work Gremlins won’t shut up at night this isn’t so easy. I try to eat well BUT pizza can be ready in ten minutes. What’s a gal to do.
I needed new advice, and fast. How exactly do we Save time and do less?
Do You Say No?
Erm, massive fail on my part here. Not only have I recently realised I have a compulsive need to please, but also the word ‘No’ is lacking in my vocabulary. How do you say no? Well, as I have found out it actually is not that hard. Surprise!
Firstly, I made a priority “To do” list away from its sibling so there was no possible way it would be integrated into the newly formed society, where all ‘To do’s’ go to whither and disappear from sight.
Next I looked at the absolute must do’s. Be ruthless! Anything else politely decline, delay or delegate (Note: there is no need to apologise profusely, apparently).
Are You Delegating Enough?
I have only recently learnt the art of delegation, and admittedly I still have a lot to learn. Are you a delegatophobe too?
The important thing here I have learnt is to speak up. It is hard to admit when we need help but you cannot do it all, none of us are superhuman. Whether you are a manager or not, you can always ask a colleague to help you. If you work for yourself then think who in your network could you seek assistance from. Like anything it is a case of forming the habit. So, go! Delegate away.
Is Everything on Your To-Do List Necessary?
Are you sure? Read it again then again. This really worked for me. What is the worst that could happen if you weren’t to do something? Okay so, no the world won’t end but is anyone going to be hurt by that piece of work not being actioned. Write down the potential outcomes of the task not being completed, you may well be surprised.
Once again, speak up. Don’t suffer in silence. I have been there many a time and it is painful. People around you will be more than willing to help you but they need to know that you need it. I get so lost in my bubble of hecticness I frequently can’t see the wood for the trees. Finding my way out isn’t possible without seeking help.
Are All of the Recurring Meetings on Your Calendar Necessary?
Call me a freak but I have a habit of booking meetings for an hour, even though I have every intention of bish, bash, boshing them within half an hour. Chances are most recurring meetings are not necessary, or even if there is a requirement will a 5 minute phone call not suffice, or an email update?
For One-Off Meetings, is Your Default Length Too Long?
See above. The shorter and snappier the better. Let’s face it, who amongst us wants to be in a meeting any longer than is absolutely necessary.
Do You Even Need a Meeting at All?
See ‘Do You Say No?’.
Are you really needed at the meeting? Again, will a 5 minute phone call not suffice, or an email update? Unless you are absolutely crucial to a meeting it is unlikely in all honesty that you will missed. You can always ask for an update after the event. Panic not.
Are You a Slave to Your Inbox?
Golly, who isn’t these days? If it’s you please let me know your secret.
Technology is amazing yet totally suffocating. I have recently started unsubscribing from a lot of email updates, I had to, it was all too much.
Having suffered some time with a compulsive need to respond to emails immediately I now refrain from doing so. If possible I will call someone, to avoid the subsequent email ping-pong. Just pick up the phone instead!
As Alex Cavoulacos wisely says:
Give yourself permission to archive irrelevant cold emails and FYI emails you’re cc:ed or bcc:ed on. Saying no to email is key to making time for real work.
Taking the time out to reassess your workload, priorities and your approach is invaluable.
For many of us who carry the additional load of Depression & Anxiety et al this can be a million times harder. As we know, the smallest thing can tip us over the edge. Don’t despair. From experience the starting point is simply to stop. Just pause. Allow yourself to just be. Then write it all down, off load everything onto paper, as much as possible. Let it all out. Give yourself permission to take the time to reassess. Go outside. Get some Headspace. See your therapist. Practice Mindfulness. Take the time out to do things that make you feel better. Go back to basics then start afresh. Work is never more important than your own wellbeing. Ever.
Slow and steady wins the race.
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