Not everyone is feeling on top of the world though. Apparently the UK has a crisis of management, with a lack of people with the skills to motivate and manage staff. It probably isn’t a surprise that one of the most popular posts here is “How to deal with being overwhelmed at work.” – perhaps a little of Guy Kawasaki’s “The Art of the Start” might be an antidote: Guy Kawasaki – The Art of the Start
Alltop reminds me of a great technique for dealing with overwhelm: The at-a-glance tool. Alltop gives an at-a-glance view of the best sites on a particular topic. That overwhelmed feeling comes more from what you don’t know, than what you do. The feeling that not everything is on the the RADAR at once, that more is lurking on page 2, 3, 4, … An at-a-glance tool lets you know you’ve got it all in sight.
GTD is also an excellent at-a-glance tool. Yes, there are multiple to do lists (it is a good thing to have buckets), but it collects everything that needs doing into one place. That gives a single view of what needs doing and the confidence that it is a complete view.
If you haven’t got that view already, start by taking a blank sheet of paper and writing down everything that needs doing. Keep going until everything you can think of is down there. Don’t be afraid. It is the first step to getting back on track, and it is going to be manageable.
Second, check out Scott Young‘s excellent post, “20 tips to survive when you’ve overloaded your schedule” – regular readers will spot familiar themes in this summary with my comments:
Stop the leaks:
- Work Your Calendar – block out time to cover your projects, to keep the excess out.
- Say No – don’t take more onto the to do list. Be firm.
- Use Your Network – get help and support, turn your network inside out.
‘Create’ more time:
- Get Up Earlier and Eliminate Time Sinks - Kill the TV, gaming and surfing. You snooze you loose.
- First Things First - always a winning strategy for productivity. Deal with the large rocks, watch out for the frogs.
- Exercise – If your workload is mental, make sure there is physical work to balance it.
Lighten the load:
- Lower Quality Thresholds – Think 80/20 or “good enough is good enough”. This isn’t the time to be a perfectionist. Next
- Explain the Situation – share the burden, although don’t fall into complaining.
- Triage and Defer – Don’t treat what will live without treatment and don’t treat the things that will die. If something isn’t going to make it, fast fail it, rather than wasting more time. If things can be deferred, defer them straight away.
Create a trusted system, like Getting Things Done, so that you can stay on top of things. Your attention is your scarcest resource, use it wisely so that you don’t go into attention bankruptcy. Control where you direct your attention, you control how you spend your time, and you will get the things done that need doing.