THE OVERWHELM IS REAL
I hear it all the time: “I’m overwhelmed. I can’t possibly do everything on my plate. What should I do?”
I’ve never met a manager who has enough time to do everything they want to do. A longer to-do list than you can possibly achieve comes with the territory.
Recently, I found myself there as well. An endless list of awesome possibilities confronted me, but I wasn’t showing up the way I wanted to for any of them: not for my relationships, not for my volunteering, and not for my business.
The stress that comes with being ‘too busy’ is inescapable – or is it?
TWO REALITIES YOU’LL NEVER ESCAPE
With a quick change in perspective, you can end the stress of to-do overwhelm. There are many time and priority management systems available, but they all come down to these two principles:
1) THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE TO DO THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY GET DONE.
This is a fact of life. If you tried, you could easily list 100 things you can do right this moment. The only difference when you’re feeling overwhelmed is your awareness. You perceive many of those options vying for your attention.
It’s true that you may have more on your to-do list, than you can possibly do. (In fact, if you’re a competent, caring person, you undoubtedly have more great options than you can possibly do.) Welcome to life.
2) YOU ONLY HAVE ONE CHOICE: WHAT ONE THING WILL I DO RIGHT NOW?
You can only truly focus on one task at a time, so what will it be? We call this one task the M.I.T. – the most important thing.
What is most important?
To help you and your team stay focused on the M.I.T., try this activity:
M.I.N.D THE MIT
WHAT MATTERS MOST?
- What results must we achieve if we’re to succeed?
- What values have we committed to? (if you’ve completed your Winning Well Manifesto, look here.)
- When we walk away from our work, what will we be proud we accomplished?
- Win or lose, how will we know we’ve done our very best?
WHICH ACTIONS HAVE THE MOST IMPACT?
- What are the critical behaviors that drive your results?
- If we could only do one thing, which behavior would have the greatest impact?
- What invisible behaviors might we forget? (eg: sleep, time with others, fun)
WHERE DO I / WE NEED TO SAY NO?
- What are we choosing to do instead of our MIT?
- How can we make a different choice?
- What are silly, creative, impossible ways to do things differently?
- Where do we need to have tough conversations?
HOW WILL I/WE STAY DISCIPLINED?
- What are my/our biggest distractions?
- How can we ensure they don’t derail us?
- How will we keep the MIT in front of us all the time?
- How will we hold ourselves accountable for maintaining focus on the MIT?
For me, the critical question I needed to ask was the “N” question: where did I need to say no? I had overcommitted to many wonderful opportunities, but if I was going to be effective, I had to make a decision. In the end, I chose not to participate in a prestigious volunteer opportunity that was also a way for me to give back to people who have made a difference in my life and career. It was a hard decision because it was a fantastic opportunity. But in order to say yes to the best things in your life, you’ll need to say no to the ‘pretty good’.
What is your M.I.T. for this week? Your M.I.T. for today?
How will you say no to say yes to your M.I.T.s?
(It’s okay – you can do it. You have my permission 🙂
Be the leader you want your boss to be,