I don’t know about you but the demands we all face in everyday life just seem to be expanding at a rate of knots. It sometimes feels like it would be a good idea to just dig a hole and hide away. Technology has also made it possible for us to be reached 24/7.
Everywhere we turn there is a demand for our attention
As if home life isn’t hectic enough, what happens when we get to work? Keeping up with the workload might be hard enough when having to hit targets, meet deadlines, deal with staff, deal with customers, attend meetings etc. All of that, without even trying to make a mark for yourself, achieve a promotion or just find a space in your day to put some time and effort into your own journey.
So why is overwhelm your friend?
Firstly, we need to understand there is a difference between overwhelm and burnout. Overwhelm is that feeling “in the moment” where you are simply flooded with obligations and you just can’t handle it all. You can’t think straight. You don’t know what to do next. Burnout is the result of overwhelm – where you have coped and struggled on for a long time and you are exhausted and unable to cope any more.
It will only be a matter of time before something gives. The time comes when you take must take stock, reflect and understand what you are experiencing and learn how to best deal with it, because you must deal with it. Something has to change.
A few tried and trusted practical things we can do
You must own it. Take responsibility.
Most leaders and managers have at some point, had to deal with overwhelm. It’s fair to say it goes with the territory. Do you remember a time when people used to be “stoic”? That trait and ability to control and master you own attitude and therefore your resulting behaviours. The traits of keeping your emotions in your control and getting on with the job in hand and not endlessly complaining. Being responsible for and getting control back and working on strengthening your emotions is a good place to start.
Start your day organised
When you are in control, you can choose to start your day being proactive and organised and not being reactive the whole day long. Organise your day every day and this will challenge you to be able to set boundaries both for yourself and others who may want your time and support (colleagues for example). Get into the habit of designing what your day should look like and whilst you are blocking time out for different projects or tasks always remember to block out “transition time” in between, where you can clear your head and re focus on the next thing coming up. When you know what is happening next and you know what you’ve already successfully completed there will be a lot less anxiety and feelings of overwhelm.
Learn to say No!
Did you just say YES again?! We don’t want to feel we will upset others and to avoid this we hear ourselves saying yes before we think it through. Many of us are not good at saying no. We may come from a place of good intention and agreeing seems reasonable but then regret kicks in afterwards. Have you ever had that feeling after you say yes, when you say to yourself “I shouldn’t have done that – I haven’t got time to do it”?
Saying no will allow you to be more in control of your commitments without feeling you are letting yourself or other people down. It is after all, much worse when you say yes and can’t deliver! Saying yes should mean you can give your full motivation, energy and commitment to the task.
Steve Jobs said, “Focusing is about saying no”. Focusing on your priorities needs discipline and you may need to give some thought on how to say no that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty.
3. How long is your day?
As mangers we have all been in that frenzied situation where a new project is on the go and deadlines need to be met. It’s a time of laser focus and exciting and sure we put in the early starts and late finished BUT what happens if this is an everyday frenzy and you are feeling you need to live at work just to get to the end of your long list of things to do. Not to mention weekends disappearing under workloads.
Don’t sink! We all need to understand how we can increase our productivity in less hours.
4. Stop being a perfectionist
“Nobody’s perfect.” You might not subscribe to this common saying yet we constantly remind ourselves that nobody (including ourselves and usually when something goes wrong) is perfect? So why keep acting as if we should be? Perfect isn’t real and anyway, why not create your own definition of perfection. Try to set your own balanced realistic goals with a focused effort and adapt results if you must (only if you must – it’s not an excuse not to achieve goals).
5. Must you be in control all the time?
One of the major factors we as managers need to challenge within themselves, is often our lack of trust in other people, and trusting that they can do the job as well as us.
One thing you are in control of as a manager is your control and actions to ensure your staff are trained to do the things you need to relinquish. Whether you send them on a training course or mentor/coach them yourself, you are in control of this outcome much to your benefit and to the career development of your staff. Good decision!
So, when you are hearing the inner voice of overwhelm – listen in, make some changes and avoid burnout.
Happy to talk if you need any information, advice and guidance on your next career move or personal development. Call Julie on 07789872948 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.