Jones Loflin is an educator, business owner, and humorous keynote speaker. His exclusive article provides seven strategies to overcome an out of control workload.
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone say something like, “I just have too much to do,” or “I can’t get everything done,” I think I could go on a very nice vacation. It has become so common for us to use phrases like these to get sympathy from others, explain the reason for poor performance or to justify not taking care of something we said was important.
We do work and live faster than ever before, but this pace is frequently the result of choices we make‐or fail to make‐and not some evil villain who is out to destroy us. Before you are tempted to use one of those tired clichés the next time your workload (or life) seems to get out of control, try one of these seven strategies to stop the whining BEFORE it starts:
#1 Evaluate the use of your discretionary time. Even if 85% of your day is set in stone due to meetings, appointments or routine tasks, look at how you are using the other 15% of your resources. Are you engaged in what is most important, or do you tend to “while it away” on the insignificant. Hyrum Smith, Co‐founder of Franklin Covey, is quoted as saying, If you have three minutes, take one to plan the other two.
#2 Prune, Prune, Prune. In my book, Getting the Blue Ribbon, I talk about the need to be constantly looking for ways to reduce time and resources spent on unnecessary tasks, or ones that minimal benefit. You have to say, “No” to things of lesser importance so you can say “Yes” to things of greater importance.
#3 Focus on what you can control. Take any major task, project or assignment and write it at the top of a page. Then make two columns under the title. Label one “Control” and the other “No Control.” Now identify what is within your ability to control related to the assignment and what is not. You may just find that you have been wasting a significant amount of energy on things beyond your control.
#4 Stop treading water and swim. In the time you waste fretting over your workload or your current plight (or lamenting to others the hopelessness of your situation), you could have already made progress on your next task. You may not reach the shore by completing it, but you are least headed in the right direction.
#5 Reflect on the temporary nature of your situation. Everyone has periods of high demand and then times when less pressure is placed on them. If your situation is absent of any foreseeable “down time,” you may want to seriously reevaluate your choices. It may be time for some major changes in your work or lifestyle.
#6 Ask for help. Find the people you most identify as being successful based on your definition of success and you will see that they frequently had to have the assistance of others. Even if help from others will only save you 30‐60 minutes per week, think about how you could benefit from that extra discretionary time (See #1).
#7 Check your alignment. If your frantic pace is a result of you living out your values and priorities, you
probably wouldn’t have it any other way. If, however, your schedule and the demands placed upon you seem
to frequently be in conflict with your highest values, then it may be time to do more than simply whine about
having too much to do.
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