I used to think that feelings of overwhelm were almost always found in women.
But lately, I’ve seen men, too, who feel as if they have so many urgent priorities that they are struggling to know where to apply their efforts. Too often, that results in spinning wheels and NO real progress!
Here’s an effective way to attack overwhelm:
1. Get to the gym or out for a run in the early morning, to keep stress down.
2. Once you’re ready to work, think of who will be impacted if you fail to move forward on any project, and, if it’s just one or two people, call them to buy time -- renegotiate the deadlines, if you can.
3. Among the urgent projects remaining, decide which legitimately should have your attention today. If you can delegate even a portion of some projects, do so.
4. Clear your schedule of all but mandatory or critical meetings, and, where possible, designate a person to attend even those important meetings in your stead. (Ask your delegate to email their notes from the meeting to you immediately after it ends.)
5. After allowing for the meetings you must personally attend, divide up the remaining hours in your working day, assigning a block of time to each project.
6. Tell yourself you’ll put, for example, one hour into Project A, set the timer on your phone, and give Project A that full hour, no interruptions. Then put Project A aside, and move on to Project B.
7. Be sure you allocate time at the end of your day to deal with voicemails, texts and email, but DO NOT keep checking your phone or your email throughout the day. (Experts say that, when we allow interruptions, it takes us 25 minutes to get back to the place we were on a project before the interruption occurred!)
8. If at any time during the day you find yourself unable to FOCUS, bring your mind to the ONE project that is before you at that moment, and allow yourself no other thoughts. If you don’t know what to do about the project, rather than turning to another project, think about the one you scheduled for this block of time, and start making a list of possible approaches to it, small things you might do to move the project forward. Stay with the project scheduled for this time! And when the time block ends, put the project aside and move on.
9. If you have a thought about another project when you are working on the project that is scheduled for RIGHT NOW, make a note of the thought, and then return to the project you’re working on right now.
10. And at the end of the day, leave your work behind, congratulate yourself for taking a systematic approach to your day, and be kind to yourself!