You are here because you’re feeling overwhelmed, or burned out. What is the first solution everyone tells us: “time management.” Time Management or “overcoming overwhelm” is really about knowing your priorities. So, you’re feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps you think you have too many priorities. For instance, when was the last time you tracked how you are spending time? If you spend a week tracking your time in 15-minute increments, you are able to see where your time is going. And, you will begin to see why you are in a state of overwhelm and burnout.
- You will need to know the whole story of how you spend your time, from the time you rise to the time you go to bed.
- To clarify, doing a time study isn’t the same as looking at your meeting schedule because you aren’t tracking the interruptions, travel, and other things.
- Where does fear show up in your schedule? What are you avoiding doing that would serve your priorities better?
- Does your work ethic match your aspirations? Your data will give you insights about how you could align your time.
- What’s urgent and what’s important? Knowing the difference can help you stop feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Time Money/Resources and Quality
On any project, there is something fixed, like a deadline. So the other two items (quality and resources) have to flex to meet the deadline. Or, it might be that money and resources are fixed, so you need to be flexible on Time and Quality.
If you feel overwhelmed, ask these questions
- What will your ideal day and week look like?
- How many hours do you want to work?
- What strategic elements do you want them to have?
- Are you balancing home and friends with work?
First, you need your vision for how you would like your week to look. After that, you can begin to determine what the differences are between your current week and your ideal week.
As a result, you may have to set boundaries, step outside your comfort zone, learn to delegate, stop micromanaging, and settle for less than perfect. You may want to have time to be creating intellectual property (book, seminar, workshop). So, are you making time in your schedule for it or giving that time away? If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work:
- Do you need to hire someone to relieve you of certain tasks so you can focus on your priorities?
- What are the nonurgent interruptions that you need to say no to?
- Should you assert yourself with others to set boundaries?
- Are you doing things more perfectly than they need to be done?
- Is there someone else who could have done it?
- Did it have to be done now?
- And most importantly, how strategic was this activity in reaching your goals?
Changes to alleviate feeling overwhelmed
When you start to see how you spend your time, you can begin to make changes to stop the burnout. First, how will you start using your time to put your strategic priorities in action? It is hard to say no to opportunity. So, what do you need to say no to now? And keep in mind, sometimes it is better to say no than to accept a bad deal that will inevitably lead to future conflict.
Above all, it’s time for new behaviors. Can you check email just twice a day? What can you delegate? Are there meetings you don’t need to go to that you can send someone else to? Can you limit certain times a day that you are available for interruption except for key people?
A really tough question to ask yourself is if you’re addicted to fighting fires and drama. Do you have the systems and processes in place to keep those fires from happening? Is it possible that you need to feel absolutely essential – they can’t do it without you? Do you have the belief that you need to please people? How can you reframe these beliefs? This is where working with a coach would lead you to the baby steps you need to make to reach a new outcome.
Be honest with yourself
Be honest about all the roles you are playing, especially if you are an entrepreneur. For example, if you’re the CEO, are you playing the role of bookkeeping, product development, marketing and more? Perhaps, it’s time to make a plan to determine a timeline for hiring or delegating those roles. How much is your time worth that could be generating relationships or sales, or seeking investment, that you are spending doing other activities that it would be more cost-effective to hire someone else to do?
Meanwhile, if you’re a nonprofit leader, you have the challenge of not being able to hire and delegate to alleviate the stress and overwhelm. So the task becomes one of how to maximize your volunteer force. Are you thinking systematically on how you are spending your day and how you can use volunteers? What can you delegate to a board committee? Do you have systems and processes in place? What do you do to relieve stress and recharge every day, during the day?
Whichever path you are on, given all these questions about your overwhelm and priorities, it’s now time to create your own accountability plan. So, make a list for yourself of what you will choose to do differently, and by when. And, how will you hold yourself accountable each week?
Ask yourself daily, is this where I can have the most impact? Is it going to make my life out of balance or keep me from what is important? You are the gatekeeper, and answerable to yourself. Focus on your top 5 things, and look to delegate.
In conclusion, if you’re experiencing “burnout” and feeling exhausted, schedule a 20-minute call and see what working with a coach can do to help you realign your life. Stop tolerating so much. I guarantee you will see a new path to your future.