Manage the Feeling of Overwhelm with these Few Simple Tips
In our last blog, we shared the latest report from Gartner that highlighted how the role and workload of a manager has changed significantly because of our new way of working.
The sad reality is that the workload and demands aren’t going away and that is part of the responsibility that comes when we step into a leadership role. That doesn’t mean you should just give in, and allow feelings of overwhelm, stress and anxiety to take over as it will dramatically impact your performance and your team’s performance in not-so-great ways.
We shared some simple tactics and approaches to help you better manage your workload so you feel more in control and confident in tackling your day-to-day tasks and priorities. Have you heard the old cliché - how do you eat an elephant? The answer is one bite at a time. And this still stands true in today’s modern world of work!
We also shared the following tips in our last article to help combat the feeling of overwhelm:
- Provide a clear definition of roles & responsibilities
- Ensure you make ongoing prioritization, well, a priority
- Prepare yourself, and your people with best practices in time management
- Delegate and empower your people by trusting they can do what you need them to
Now let’s build on this list by sharing some additional tips and insights to help you feel more empowered and confident in managing the workload and demands that come with your role as a leader.
Shift Your Thinking
This may sound overly simplistic, but you would be amazed how many leaders I work with who get stuck in their own thinking around “being busy”. I want this message to be gracious and supportive vs. condescending and unkind, so allow me to elaborate. Please do not be one of those leaders who is in constant fight-or-flight mode, feels exhausted and tired all the time, and shares with almost everyone they interact with just how “busy” their life is. Respectfully, we are all busy, and as mentioned, there will never be a shortage of work. How blessed we are that we have important work, tasks, and projects to ensure we remain gainfully employed. Would you rather have it the other way around?
No one wants to work for a leader who preaches self-pity. That does nothing to inspire others. Remember, your people feed off your energy and behavior, so please help yourself by applying these simple tips to better manage your workload. Be proactive vs. reactive and focus on what you can control – your thinking. You will always have an endless to-do list. How you react to it is fully within your sphere of influence.
We have written about boundary setting in the past and it is critical that we all establish boundaries in the workplace and boundaries in our personal lives, too. We often assume everything that comes our way is a priority for the requesting party, when, in fact, it might not be.
One of the best ways to set and maintain effective boundaries is to provide clarity on things like job expectations, roles & responsibilities, and other items that relate to setting people up for success in their roles. All this should be discussed in detail with employees to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Remember, ambiguity = less engagement.
People need to understand what you expect from them, and you also need to understand what they expect from you. When both parties are clear, it will reduce the likelihood of miscommunication, re-work, and missed timelines because expectations are clearly understood. Leaving things up to assumptions and generalizations will make your job as their leader 10 times harder if your people do not understand what is expected of them and how to go about achieving success in their role. The same logic applies to you and your respective leader. Ensure you are aligned on expectations, priorities and how you will work together to achieve collective success.
I speak from experience when I tell you that this approach was a game changer for me as a leadership coach and consultant. I must practice what I preach, and compartmentalization is a critical component to staying in the moment and performing at your best.
Do one thing at a time and do it well. Multi-tasking as noted in past blogs is not possible, as the human brain cannot do two things well at the same time. That doesn’t mean you’re not juggling a variety of projects and tasks, but you are tackling them one at a time and focusing 100% attention on the task/situation at hand vs. worrying about where you need to pivot to next.
Adam Bryant, who is the Senior Managing Director, and Partner at The ExCo Group, is a respected and noted expert on executive leadership. In a recent article in Fast Company, he explains why compartmentalization is a key component of great leadership and shares five approaches that can help leaders fine-tune their compartmentalization skills:
- Stay focused on what matters most. Rank-ordering your to-do list isn’t effective and suggests that prioritization is key, so you focus on the most important items first.
- Don’t get pulled into other people’s problems. If people come to you for assistance, empower them, give them your attention and support in a way that will not compromise what you need to get done.
- Delegate and be willing to ask for help. This goes without saying that there might be times where you do not have all the answers and someone else might be better equipped to step in. Be vulnerable and be willing to ask for help and ensure you are delegating the tasks that your team should be running with.
- Give yourself a break. Establish realistic expectations for yourself. You are not perfect. No one is, and your role as a leader is to help set others up for success, not take on every challenge or opportunity that comes your way.
- Do what is best for the company. Sometimes we must make tough decisions and balance what is best for our people but also what is best for the company.
We love these tips and hope you do, too. What other approaches and strategies have you tried that are effective? What’s working for you as it relates to managing overwhelm and staying focused on what matters most?
Please reach out to us today, we would like to hear from you!
You can email me at email@example.com or call me at 1.416.560.1806.