Well, one thing’s for sure, you’re not alone with suffering overload and feeling overwhelmed. Every leader I’ve met this week has been in that boat.
The problem is you don’t get to all of the critical things that need doing. And the ones that you do get to so often don’t get enough of your attention for you to produce a quality outcome—one that you’re proud of.
Also, overloaded and overwhelmed doesn’t feel good, does it? It seriously negatively impacts how happy and fulfilled we feel.
That being the case, something needs to change. And don’t kid yourself that your load will decrease without you taking deliberate steps to shrink it…
First Up, Make Sure You’ve Got The Fundamentals Handled
Let’s quickly cover off the critical fundamentals to make sure you’re not creating a rod for your own back:
- You’re delegating what can be delegated and you’re using effective delegation techniques, right?
- You’re not getting high on adrenalin are you?Make sure you don’t need the thrill of rushing from one thing to the next. There are real physiological and psychological costs when you…
- never really stop between one big thing and the next,
- make silly mistakes because you’re doing two or more things at once,
- experience mobile phone addiction,
- don’t really connect with people along the way,
- drive fast even when you aren’t in a screaming hurry,
- forget to celebrate the successes,
- perceive even small things, like being late to a meeting or having difficulty with a peer, as a crisis.
- You’re saying “no” when you need to say no, yes?You’re aware of your boundaries and you don’t let your willingness to serve or a lack of assertion get in your way of taking care of them.
- You’re using time wisely, aren’t you?You’re not letting any of those pesky natural tendencies derail you—such as being too focussed on the detail, or doing big picture thinking at the wrong time.
- How much attention are you giving to your work/life balance?If your work has become too consuming and you don’t have enough life in your life, it’s time to take action. Check these six pointers to creating greater balance.
Two Steps To Creating A More Fulfilling Existence
To get on top of the problem we need to be aware that overload and overwhelm are actually two different issues:
- Overload is having too much on your plate.
- Overwhelm is your emotional reaction to being overloaded.
They need to be dealt with separately.
Step one: Deal with your sense of being overloaded
When you’ve got the fundamentals handled and you’re still overloaded with things to do, you simply have to prioritise.
My clear favourite approach is the urgent/important matrix. It’ll give you an unambiguous perspective on what your next critical-to-focus-on activity is.
I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t seriously benefited from the clearer perspective gained from using this first-rate system to list and to prioritise what’s on their plate.
Step two: Deal with your overwhelmed feeling
Once you’ve got a strong hold of your priorities, the secret to seriously reducing your feeling of being overwhelmed is simply for you to make a decision to focus on your next critical-to-focus-on activity—putting everything else out of your mind until you’re done with it (or it’s time to take a break).
When you’re in the moment, 100% focused on this primary activity, you’ll loose your sense of overwhelm.
It’s when you’re jumping from one thing to another, multi-tasking like crazy, you drive yourself crazy .
So, dive into your primary activity, boots and all, forgetting about anything and everything else.
Your Leadership Call To Action
Watch, when you apply steps one and two, your sense of being overloaded and your feeling of being overwhelmed will dissipate. Will you give it a whirl?
As always, I look forward to your comments, hearing about your experiences, and your contact if you or a leader in your team would benefit from support in either getting the overload and overwhelm handled or another vital leadership practice or behaviour.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.