Feeling overwhelmed at work? Is there too much to do but not enough time? Do little things get in the way of the important tasks?
Everything is important.
There are things that deem most important to someone. This does not mean that they hold the same significance for you. If you set your schedule based on others’ priorities, not only you may be avoiding what is vital to be successful in your role, but also overworking and burning yourself out. At worse, you may be compromising your mental and physical well-being.
If you don’t do this the world will end.
Every task can be prioritized. You can spend hours on reports that no one ever reads, in meetings which do not produce action or change, in listening to others who really do not want to resolve their issues, or in making lives of others easier while you unconsciously stress yourself out. Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, keep reading because this article is for you.
Most people are more efficient and effective than you.
Does unaccomplished tasks prevent you from having a good night sleep? Ever wondered how colleagues seem so calm and collected all the time while you feel as if your desk is piled high with endless tasks? Do you feel like an impostor? If you do, then you probably believe that other people are more intelligent, organized or effective than you. In the mean time, they are probably looking at you and thinking you are a super-person. All of us have tasks we like, those we tolerate doing and others that we dread facing. This is normal. There are roles at which we excel and those which we are just mediocre – just like everyone else. Don’t waste time comparing yourself to others. Just be your best self 100% of the time.
It is important to give others your attention when they want it.
You can maintain an open-door policy. Naturally others will pop in whenever they feel like it and those that are needy will come to you to get their fix. But this does not mean you cannot focus on your own responsibilities. You can schedule time each day when you can complete your own tasks without feeling guilty. This may mean scheduling as little as one hour per day to be undisturbed. Take what you need. Others will learn to solve their own concerns and engage with you when they really are running out of options or need your permission to proceed in a new direction. Those who really need your help will be there when your door opens. You can count on that.
I have to have the answers.
No one expects you to have all the answers. Allow others to use their knowledge and solve their own problems. Teach them by example so that they won’t come to you with the same issue over and over. Don’t worry. You will not work yourself out of a job. Your team members will start to solve on their own and just escalate the more complex issues to you. Then, you will be able to use your time to be effective in your own role. You deserve that opportunity.
What Can I Do?
There are several things you can do.
- Clear all non-essential tasks from your slate.
- Set up the conditions required to focus sharply.
- Spend your time solving problems rather than talking about them.
- Teach others to accept responsibility for all aspects of their role and only rely on you after exhausting all means available to them.
- Spend time hiring the right people for the job rather than dealing with all their issues after they are hired.
- Prioritize by focusing on the Right Things.
How do I prioritize?
Copy the chart below and write down your tasks inside each box according to their classification.
Now that you have filled in your chart
a. Take the tasks that are in Box #3 and either:
- Limit the time you spend on them,
- Eliminate them,
- Delegate them,
- Find ways to stop redoing work,
- Automate them,
- Outsource them,
- Say “No”, or,
b. Establish processes to make them easier and faster to accomplish.
c. Take the tasks in Box #4 and either eliminate them from your schedule or set time to do them and stick to that time allotment.
d. The items in Box #1 are very important for your clients, customers, or patients but are not urgent for you. However, these are very important for the success of your organization or business and will affect your reputation. Therefore, they are most likely a priority in your schedule.
e. Box #2 contains all the things that are critical to your ongoing success. These are also of high priority for others because they have deadlines attached and serious consequences may arise if unattended.
Now That I Know What is Important and Urgent What Do I Do Next?
Create a chart like this one below and fill it in with the items from Boxes #1 and 2 above. The examples in each box may help you think about your work concretely.
Now That I Know My Priorities, What’s Next?
Be honest with yourself and answer the following questions.
- I focus best at this time of day ____________________________________
- I need this much sleep to function well ______________________________
- I eat proper meals and take breaks during the day _____________________
- I set realistic goals for myself each day ______________________________
- I refuse to multi-task and do one thing at a time _______________________
- I create the space I need to work effectively __________________________
- I allow time to think ______________________________________________
- I set realistic limits with team members ______________________________
Now that you know your self well, set your schedule to accommodate time to work alone, allow interruptions, answer emails and phone calls, write, solve problems, and celebrate successes.
After this, it is all in your hands. If you are still stuck, it is time to work with a leadership coach. You deserve the best. Demand it.
Do you want to:
- reduce stress and achieve harmony in your personal and professional life?
- be a more effective and efficient leader in your workplace?
If you want to be on top of your game, then you will benefit the most from coaching.
I am offering a free 20-minute consultation to help you decide which coaching package is best for you. Click the button below to schedule a call.
Dr. Brenda Kelleher-Flight