I get a lot of calls to deliver my resilience programme – “Building Professional and Personal Resilience with the Resilience Compass©”. I’ve been delivering it for over eight years now, so the program is pretty refined and gets excellent feedback. I’m always intrigued by the reasons why executives, HR managers and team leaders want to develop resilience. It is usually a combination of three reasons:
- Their people face a lot of problems/adversity – i.e they want their staff to be able bounce back and return to “normal” as quickly as possible.
- Change-fatigue; there are too many changes and they want their staff to be more change agile.
- Overwhelm – there’s just too much going on and people are feeling stressed. They want to help themselves, or their staff cope better with the workload.
Strictly speaking, resilience is about overcoming setbacks. The skill of resilience, will help you not just to cope with adversity, but also help you with points two (too much change) and three (overwhelming workloads) above. This is because resilience is a transferable and higher level skill than the skills of dealing with change and overwhelm. Resilient people will be able to figure out for themselves how to deal with change fatigue and overwhelm.
However, overwhelm and change are so pervasive these days that I’d like to address them specifically in this post.
How To Deal With Overwhelm
Overwhelm usually happens because you think there is more to do, than you can complete with the time or resources you have. You know what it’s like, not only do you have an enormous amount of work to do – but every time you sit down to start a task you’re interrupted with something else to do. Your boss needs something, a colleague asks questions, you’re stuck on a hard bit, there’s too much noise, your email alert goes off, you get a message on your phone, now you notice you’re hungry and need another coffee, and so it goes on – all the while more and more work is piling up. . (I’ll cover the cost of interruptions in another blog, but let me tell you, up to 3 hours per day is lost to interruptions - that’s more than a third of your day).
No wonder you feel stressed. If this is your day, then you’re likely to go home at the end of it feeling frazzled, slightly defeated, and overwhelmed.
What you need is a couple of wins to keep you going - so how to do that?
Tips for Beating Overwhelm
Here’s a few tips to get on top of your workload:
- Turn off anything on your desktop that might distract you – particularly that little pop-up window that tells you, you’ve received another email. Also moving tickers, moving images etc.
- Keep a firm eye towards what you want to do, and how you want to feel (successful, relaxed, happy, productive) doing it. I keep an aspirational picture up near my desk.
- Plan to tick off a couple of important tasks each day. Print up a calendar of your week. Against each day put down just one or two things you can achieve that day. If you use Outlook – it allows you to print up a weekly calendar, including the tasks you plan to complete on a particular day. You can also download free printable calendars.
- Schedule time to complete the tasks. It’s not enough just to say, you’re going to do the task – you have to schedule time to do it. If you don’t have enough time, just schedule time to start it. This has two functions:
- It’s a start – “the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step”.
- More importantly – it energises you about what you can do, and have done – rather than what is left undone. Thinking about what is underdone is just draining.
Get some training - most productive people invest in their performance . Attend my program “Work Smarter - How To Get More Done With Less Stress”.
What other techniques do you have to avoid overwhelm? I’d like to hear them.
Cris has expansive experience teaching organisations, teams and individuals to be more resilient as well as increasing workplace productivity. He has worked with some of the State's largest (and smallest) organisations . Call Cris on +61 438 545 607 or shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to benefit from his expertise.