I find myself in a lot of conversations lately about how busy and frustrated people are. Here are some typical comments:
“With all our wonderful technology, designed to make it all so much easier, I just feel more overwhelmed instead of more productive!”
“I can’t figure out how to make things happen that just don’t happen.”
“I try so hard to stick to my priorities, but the day just takes over and I don’t get to them.”
“I’m good about lists and most days I get all the stuff done, but lately wondering if I’m really getting anywhere.”
“I’m beginning to discover that I’ve taken on more than I can possibly handle – what do I do now?”
I confess that I’m right there with them at this moment. Over the New Year period I was in a real funk, and I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of it. A few days in I got a terrible cold – and that almost never happens to me. Then I realized that I was just feeling overwhelmed and depressed about my failure to get everything done and – even worse — take care of everyone who was asking for my help.
But I had an epiphany the day my husband and I made our Best Year Yet plans. I was trying to do more than I could possibly do and –classic mistake – getting myself too involved in the work of others on the team. So, we got organized! We set 20 priorities for the month with clear accountabilities. That’s better, I said!
Two days later I slipped on the ice, broke or sprained my wrist (second X-ray today), and the day after that came down with bronchitis. Help! What’s the message here?
Here’s what I know. Over the years I’ve observed that people have their own approach to getting things done – here are the main ‘work style approaches’ I’ve seen. Which are you?
To Do Lister
Make a list every day and then start rushing around, motivated by getting everything on the list done. The list is usually a mixture of errands, personal stuff, email, calls, and action for work.
Spend most of the day in front of a computer. When a new request or problem comes up, a note is made on a Post-it, stuck on the side of the computer, and then back to the computer!
Off to a fast start, interrupted by a call, start checking email, then remember to check Facebook and book ranking on Amazon, listen to voicemail, check schedule and race to meeting, and it’s time for lunch.
Small Stuff First
Have an important project to complete today, but first the slate must be clear so concentration is possible. Small stuff to do includes things like get the desk organized, read and respond to emails, return phone calls, and book dinner. By then several hours (at least) have passed, and the strong morning energy is waning.
Desk is completely clean, pencils sharpened, working on only one thing at a time, can find anything needed either on computer or in files at a moment’s notice. Master of control, but does it matter?
Tough Stuff First
Disciplined and dedicated to tackling the biggest project or highest priority of the day first, when the mind is most clear. Usually working on the things that matter most before going to voice mail, email or Twitter.
Which type are you?
Is it working?
What about what matters?
- Identify your Work Style from the list above – or describe your own
- What can you do NOW? (What advice do you have for yourself?)
That’s it for now. What’s your advice for yourself? for us? Give us your ideas about to stop being overwhelmed, over busy, and spinning our wheels.