Many busy professionals today are feeling overwhelmed because of their many commitments—to work, family, elder care, community and so on. They allow things to creep on to their to-do lists, often unconsciously. By failing to say no and take the right actions, their ever-growing list becomes overwhelming. Anxiety and exhaustion soon follow. Productivity falters, and often they develop a bad attitude.
Reduce Overwhelming Commitments Before They Reduce Productivity
Acknowledge Everything. Write or type a weekly to-do list of everything that needs to be done. Get the vague, undefined list out of your head to stop disruptive mental chatter. Include the simplest things (change a light bulb) to the most difficult (a presentation for the boss). Stay out of the details at this point.
Get Real. Next, cross off those things you will NOT do. Even a superwoman or superman can’t do everything and be a happy, productive person. Review the list again and cross off more items – tell the truth — you know what you will (or must) do and will not do. (This will require you to have conversations with family, friends and employees, letting them know up front what you are doing to keep your relationships strong.)
Clarity Is Key. Now, circle ONLY the top three items that must be done. Rank them. Get into action and focus on number one, now!
Focus and Stay in Action
Outline a Plan. Type or write out a short plan for each action item. Get with others to see what is missing from the plan and who can help. Then, create a timetable. Now, get into immediate action to ensure a feeling of productivity.
Focus. Talk with your boss and clarify the specific results he or she wants. This usually eliminates your mental chatter and clarifies what needs to be done. Focus only on result-oriented items and stop making the process bigger or more complicated than it needs to be.
Delegate. Who can you delegate the whole plan to, or specific items? Watch out for any control issues you may have. Understand that others will not tackle things the way you would. That’s OK. You will often find that they do a better job than you would have. During the process, review actions taken and expected results together. Fine-tune. You’re done!
Work with Your Team. Who can you include to make sure the results are great? At home, kids can load a dishwasher (remember, there are over 100 different ways to do it). Others on a committee can pitch in and help with setup and cleanup after an event. Employees can learn how to do a job, often more quickly than you think they can! Don’t nitpick their approach; focus on the right things, like the customer, outcome, number of attendees, timetable, etc.
Acknowledge. It is very important to appreciate others and their efforts, individually and as a team. Stop micromanaging. (Yes, I need to keep repeating this point.) Instead, fine-tune what is expected of others and brainstorm together to resolve any issues before they become problems.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2017
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