Emails, notifications, phone calls, alerts, jammed calendars, accommodating others’ schedules, dealing with unexpected changes. We are bombarded with distractions that demand our immediate attention and, no matter how hard you try to manage your time, you can’t help feeling overwhelmed with your workload.
To replace stress with success, you need to be realistic about your limits as a human in a world that wants everything immediately. Accept that you can’t help that you are human. A human that gets stressed, has feelings of doubt and procrastinates. It’s normal. That being said, you can better manage your time with these techniques:
Prioritize When You're Overwhelmed
Learning how to prioritize begins with changing your conception of time. There is never going to be any more or less time. Time is a constant and the variable is what we do with our time. That’s why when people tell me they don’t have time I ask them to give me their priorities. Stop focusing on time constraints and focus on what you want to get done.
Your priorities should align with your goals. What do you want to do today? 90 days from now? 10 years from now? If you can’t answer these questions, there’s no reason to talk about time. I’m a firm believer that writing manifests reality. So sit down, write down your goals, and consciously confirm they align to the values and principles that guide your life. If you guide every conversation against your principles, you will discover you have more than enough time simply because you create time for things you love. Figure out your priorities and design the life that helps you achieve those priorities.
Setting Aside Your Inner Control Freak to Let Someone Else Do the Job
When you’re confronted with a task you have three options: (1) Tell others to do it, (2) do it yourself, (3) build a system that guides them through the tasks. When you simply tell others what to do without explaining why they always come back asking, “What do I do next?” Constant requests for instructions and clarification is counterproductive and managers often opt to just do the tasks themselves. This is a classic junior manager mistake.
The only reason you should ever do a task yourself is to learn what success should look like in the task. After you do it once, structure the task so someone else can do it. Build a process around the task and clearly, define the outcome. Successful managers know how delegate tasks with the intent it will never come back to them.
How to Recharge Yourself When You're Unproductive
Working smart requires a combination of work and rest. Downtime keeps you mentally sane and allows your subconscious thoughts to surface. Thoughts that could solve what’s keeping you up at night.
Gearing down is pivotal to recharging your battery. It’s a ritual that progressively removes tensions between your work and personal life. For example, no responding to emails after 5PM, write action items for the following day, then go get a drink.
Mindful resting involves contemplating long-term goals. Schedule an average of two hours per week to mindful rest and devote yourself to thinking, distractedly for the entire time period. The goal is to achieve a meditative state, purposefully directing your thoughts to a particular question.
Disconnecting involves entirely removing yourself from work. Go on a trip, take a trip to the spa, whatever it takes to separate you, from the hustle and bustle of your day-to-day life, do it. A mental break will leave you energized and motivated to get back to work.
Feeling overwhelmed is inevitable. The good news is you are not alone. If you’re feeling drained or like a failure you can bet somebody else is too. Why? Because we are all humans.