Pressure mounts at work when:
- someone retires or gets fired, and it’s been determined the position won’t be filled
- someone goes out on leave for an extended amount of time
- responsibilities get added to your plate that aren’t in your job description
- new regulations force a new way of doing things
- you have a sudden increase in customers/clients to keep happy
- you have a new supervisor with higher expectations
Now what? You can’t clone yourself! But you only have so many hours in the day, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight! That’s a recipe for burnout if you don’t find a way to either shed some responsibilities to ease your load, or increase your capacity–and still make it happen. Let’s pretend you’ve delegated all you can, and your plate is still over-full.
- Improve specific skills. One way to increase capacity is to get better at what you do so that it takes less time. Your efficiency gets you through one task and on to another one more quickly instead of all the hesitation that comes with not knowing what to do next.
- Set boundaries and practice self-care. Since it’s time to put on your cape and be a superhero, it’s going to take you being in tip-top performance shape. By getting plenty of quality sleep, daily exercise of 10,000 steps, food that is fuel and not garbage, and a healthy NO that rolls off your tongue when even more “opportunities” come your way, you will be able to cope with the increased, sustained stress.
- Stay in your strengths zone. You are one talented worker. Do you remember why? For what elements of your job have people praised you, for years and years? What tasks give you the most energy at work, where it almost seems effortless? You’ve got to do more of THAT. Working too long in your weak areas will make you feel weak, and it will take twice as long, too.
- Get incredibly organized. To keep up with the influx of email, paperwork and people to serve–and technologies and supervisors to adapt to–, your work space and systems must be a well-oiled machine. Make sure there’s an easy home for everything that crosses your desk so that piles don’t form, causing distracting clutter (and thus, overwhelm). Take care of quick tasks in the moment, and block out productivity time for more critical thinking tasks–and honor those appointments with yourself!
- Triage tasks and then prioritize. You now must become a time management ninja. Actually, let’s call it priority management. As request for your time flow your direction via multiple media, have a master task list in one place to capture each task. Unless it’s urgent to do right away (and only YOU determine if something is truly urgent), set a daily time to review your day and preview the next day. During this half-hour of prime time, you’ll refresh your to-do list and choose your top 3 tasks for tomorrow that you MUST do, to make it a good day. Rank the other tasks by importance, urgency, and significance and tackle them accordingly as the week progresses.
- Use available resources. Sing it with me, “We all need somebody to lean on.” When under additional stress, enlist the help of anyone you can–even if they just can take a piece of a project. Talk to your mentor or coach for advice. Find a way to automate some tasks using technology.
Deep breath. You can do this! Increase your capacity when your load can’t be lightened “the easy ways” and you’ll keep Growing Forward!
Still feeling overwhelmed? Check out my blog on that topic for some practical tips to deal with overwhelm.
I mentioned time management, and I have a free tool for you at www.takebackmycalendar.com Pick up my free Control My Calendar Checklist to get those first systems started.