HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY: ARE YOU YOUR OVERLOAD? Have you examined whether you bring on the overload yourself? Are you using work as an excuse to avoid addressing personal life choices that you have made? Do you find chores at home too much? Do you resent childcare? Do you feel miserable for reasons you cannot identify, and as a result, seek out reasons to feel overloaded? Be honest with yourself as you examine this overload to first see how this serves you. Often, our discomforts serve something else in our lives, and as a result, we do not address them. Once you have cleared this up, then ask yourself: is this overload because of your "passion"?
DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT KIND OF PASSION? There are two kinds of passion: obsessive and harmonious passion. Obsessive passion is passion where you simply cannot stop doing what you are doing. Your every moment has to be spent doing this, not because of a feeling of inspiration or excitement, but because you simply cannot stop. Harmonious passion involves hard work that is satisfying but not consuming. It also has a driven quality, but it ends up being good for you.
Contact NBG if you would like a workshop on accessing the right kind of passion.
YOU ARE MORE EMPOWERED THAN YOU THINK: The first incorrect assumption about work overload is that you can do nothing about this. You feel disempowered because you cannot reach your goals, and you feel throttled by work that is being shoved down your throat. Your attention is on how you are failing rather than how to increase your resilience and capacity, and when you read this, you feel angry because you are sure you have reached capacity. This is what anyone who did not work out would feel if they were asked to lift a 50 lb weight. Yet, a mental work-out or new organization may be exactly what you need.
LEARN HOW TO SAY NO: People who are overloaded by work do not know how to say no. Saying no is difficult because you feel as though you will disappoint the person in need. One of the things you need to examine early on is setting yourself up for disappointment. When you bite off more than you can chew to help others, you may end up disappointing yourself.
BECOME A SUPERTASKER: It is important not to buy into the naysayers who are down on multitasking. No amount of complaining about this is about to change this request of you. Multitasking is here to stay. So instead of complaining of your decreased quality of work, ask yourself: how can I become a supertasker. Supertaskers are that minority of people who become more productive while multitasking. They do not waste their energy on braking when they switch from one task to another. They are in the flow.
BEING IN THE FLOW (CONTROLLED LETTING GO) HELPS: People who have work overload often have much trouble being in the flow. If anything, the overload makes them slow and sluggish. The more overloaded they feel, the slower they become. This becomes a vicious cycle. Paradoxically, according to the laws of physics, if you load a car with more weight, its momentum will be greater. Ask yourself how to reach beyond the weight that is pushing you down-to go faster.
This however, is close to impossible if it is not done in a spirit of lightness and ease. Making a game of work can be very helpful, as it will decrease the boredom of the weight. Whenever weight slows you down, ask yourself, how can I put a carpet beneath the weight to decrease the friction? What will allow me to reach for flow?
SWITCH FROM SOLUTION-SEEKING TO BEING ON THE JOURNEY FROM TIME TO TIME: There is a subtle difference between this kind of optimism and perseverance with frustration. Make the distinction. Ask yourself: if I am looking for solutions, is it because I believe in a solution-oriented life, or because I feel forced to? Feeling forced to be solution-focused may be necessary at first, but if this is your pattern, recognize what you are suppressing. It will not last.
STRESS IS A TWO-WAY RELATIONSHIP: People who feel like their bosses are overloading them with work recognize that their bosses are under strain that they are sharing but rarely seek to alleviate the stress of the boss. Instead, you may feel picked on, when all that is happening is that you are one link in a chain startling with the unstable stock market. Consider deepening your relationship with your boss without being intrusive. Perhaps brainstorming solutions on behalf of the group, or with the group.
BUILD IN PROGRESSIVE REWARDS: Lastly, work overload is often simply reward underrepresentation. Between each task, you might want to build in a reward that drives you onto the next one. While it is important not to be a hero and simply take on undue weight, it is also important to recognize that you are a hero in that most of us only use a small percentage of what we are capable of.
ARE YOU LEVERAGING YOUR BEST? Deeper down you have to ask: Why do I not want to connect with my greatest self? What am I afraid of? Do I have a fear of success and failure? And how do I deal with these fears if I am to proceed at full speed? What would make you more aerodynamic (more workouts?), more resilient (learning the skills of focused attention) or more brilliant? How can you, even at this stage of your life, make a pact with yourself to find a capacity in yourself that you have never known? Can you give up your obsession with the norm, and reach for what is exceptional within you?
There are some simple reminders that may help you when deciding how to deal with having too much work to complete in too short a period of time.
Actions: Work Overload
DAY 1: TIME MANAGEMENT COMPANION
Manage your time realistically and effectively
Schedule time to return telephone calls and e-mails
Schedule enough time to eat
Scheduled enough time to meditate
Scheduled enough time to relax
Building in these elements into a work-day can help create a more realistic schedule and help decrease the sensation of work overload.
Connect to my calendar to do the above
DAY 2: COMMITMENT TO DELEGATION OR SHARING:
Identify tasks that can be delegated or shared
Send-e mail to ask someone if they can share or do part of a task