When you get overloaded with work, what do you do?
Most people push through it, work much longer hours and just accept that they are in a stressful period. In essence, they try to out work the problem.
I coach a lot of entrepreneurs, and when I see they are overloaded with work I suggest they do the opposite.
Stop work entirely. Take a break. Get centered and calm.
Then begin the process of getting clarity over your work situation.
Here are the 5 ways to get clarity.
1. Tidy up your work environment
Your office environment definitely affects how well you think. A messy desk helps create a messy mind. It’s hard to think clearly when your direct work environment is chaotic. Just ten minutes cleaning, tidying and organising your desk makes a phenomenal difference to how well you think. And how on top of things you feel.
2. Write down absolutely everything you have to do
One of the main reasons we get stressed as entrepreneurs is the sheer number of tasks we have to do weighs us down. This feeling is magnified when we are not absolutely sure what we should do. Take another ten minutes to get on paper every To Do you have – put your business tasks on one page and your personal tasks on another.
3. Prioritise your tasks
Put the number 1 next to your most important To Do. Then put a 2 next to your next most important, etc. This creates a further level of clarity and calm as you realize that many of the jobs you may have been fretting about are just not that important. Usually only a few of your To Do’s really matter. Getting clear on the vital few makes a world of difference to your stress levels. This should take another 5 minutes.
4. Discipline yourself to work on the most important tasks first
This is not easy. Many of us pick the easy or fun tasks to do, particularly when we are stressed. If you can force yourself to work on each item on the list in accordance with the priority number you gave it, then you will find you will make huge progress quickly.
5. Avoid perfectionism at all costs
When you are overloaded with work don’t try to do every task perfectly. Just do every job to a 70 – 80% standard of excellence. That way you’ll get through the list in half the time. If you have some time left over at the end you can always go back and finesse some tasks, but generally in the business world you are better off getting more stuff done then doing a small number of jobs exceedingly well.
So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed with your workloads, resist the urge to just work harder and longer. Instead, stop working. Get clear. Get calm. Get direction. Then and only then get to work again. This simple 5 step clarity system will make a major difference to both your effectiveness and your happiness.