“OMG I have so much to do I’ll never get it done” is what you say to yourself. The effect snowballs as you imagine the potential outcomes if you don’t get it all done (you may disappoint your boss or client… you may be home late for dinner and get a guilt trip…you may not earn as much as you hoped…) Its likely that you ARE doing more than one job or wearing all the hats in your business – so there is too much to do and not enough time.
Good news is that there is SO much within your control to identify your priorities and reduce your overwhelm. I’ve made a checklist for you of 5 factors that contribute to your overwhelm. Each is followed by questions inquiring whether you are doing what YOU can do to control that factor. [Read to the end where I issue you a challenge that will make you more productive and less overwhelmed within 30 days…]
1. You don’t have a clearly defined strategy or know your top 3 needle movers.
Clarity is your best productivity tool. You or your team may be “throwing spaghetti against the wall seeing what sticks” and hope that some things work. Indeed, 65% of senior executives said their companies had too many strategic objectives and wouldn’t be able to achieve them1. Most business owners say they are drowning in tons of tasks but only 30% could name their top 3 needle movers2.
– Have you proactively led discussions with your manager, on your team, or with your business coach on clarifying your priorities.
– Do your 3 need mover activities get put in your schedule ahead of everything else each week?
2. You get hijacked by urgent crises and “one off” requests.
Inevitably”something comes up”. Then you get derailed and don’t get started on or don’t make further progress on your bigger more important projects.
-Do you have strategies to prevent recurring interruptions by problem solving the conditions that cause them and training people you work with to respect your time?
– Do you have criteria for determining which interruptions to respond to and not?
3. You don’t have role clarity.
You want to be really clear about what YOU do best and sculpt your role around it when possible. Most other activities you do are wasting your time and talent.
– Are you acting at the right level of your role? How much of your time is going towards activities that are not at the level of your role?
4. You are not efficient with the time you have.
You use different parts of your brain when you do planning work (such as making your ‘to do’ list) than when you do implementing work (writing an email). It is most efficient for you to do all of your “like” tasks together at one time. When you switch between tasks as you multitask, you lose up to 30% efficiency.
– Do you do your prioritizing work at the same time as your implementing work and lose time?
– Do you have a system for continually re-setting your priorities and the time blocks you will accomplish the work in?
5. You drain time on “people issues”.
I have surveyed over 1000 business professionals and 85% of them said they spend 30 minutes or more each day on friction in relationships. 42% of them spend up to 90 minutes or more. We often don’t include time on our calendars for time and energy we spend being frustrated that others aren’t giving us the response we need.
– Do you know how to minimize the time you waste on that difficult person in your business (or personal) life?
If you are not doing most of the strategies I’ve asked you about above, then you are keeping yourself overwhelmed!
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