Friday, March 12, 2010

6 Ways to Protect Yourself From Overload

6 Ways to Protect Yourself From Overload

Do you constantly say that you have too much to do and too little time?
If you have one… is your todo list a mile long?
This seems to be a common sentiment in today’s world. Everyone has too much on their list and too many obligations to keep up with.
Have you stopped to consider why your load is so big? How did you end up under so many obligations in the first place?
What is all of this weight holding you back?

Too Much on Your Truck?

A better question may be… where did all this weight come from?
If you are truly overloaded, how did you get there? Over time you have taken on more than you can handle. It did not happen instantly or overnight.
Often, this is self-inflicted time management. You have been practicing habits and behaviors that have lead to this situation. You have been creating your own stress andlife friction.
How can we limit this load that prevents us from being productive and enjoying our day?

6 Ways to Protect from Overload

There are many habits that can lead to task overload. Here are six behaviors to help avoid personal overload:
  1. Be Organized Enough to Know Your Load – This is an important first step. Do you even know how much you are carrying? When people say, “I have too much to do,” I immediately ask to see their todo list and project board. Ironically, many of them do not have a single organized view of what they need to do. Multiple lists and scattered papers present a jumbled perspective. If you don’t know how much is on your plate, how can you hope to efficiently get it done?
  2. Just Say No – Are you unable to tell others no? Do you constantly accept tasks and obligations from others? This can be a leading source of the extra weight that holds you back. ”Can you do this for me?” ”Can you help me with that?” Sometimes, the right answer is “No.”
  3. Finish to Done - Another reason your load my be too big is that you do not ever fully complete things. Starting tasks is easy, but finishing them is hard. You start many tasks, but do not see them to completion. A few items completed is always more effective than many things begun.
  4. Don’t Do Everything Yourself – Busy people are often guilty of trying to do everything themselves. They don’t delegate, either because they are too busy to do so, or they believe that someone else could not do it as well as they can. Delegation, where appropriate, is a key skill to productivity. Ensure you are not keeping tasks that would be better served by someone else.
  5. Set Clear Expectations – Clear expectations are essential to efficient workflow. ”Who is going to do that?” ”When is it going to get done?” Have you ever found yourself working on something, only to find out that someone else was also doing it? No one was clear about whose todo list it was on.
  6. Defend Your Time – Do you defend your time? If not, people will steal it. Why is it acceptable to let people take our time? We wouldn’t let them steal our money, yet time seems to be free game. You need to be ruthless in protecting your most valuable resource: your time. Ensure that you have first priority on your time and do not let others unnecessarily waste it. (A good method for this is to “Block Your Time.“)

A Lighter Load…

It is difficult to perform at your best when you are under too much weight from your tasks and obligations. Keeping yourself from getting in an overloaded status is important.
Be aware of what you are carrying. Make choices on what you take on. And take charge of your time and tasks.
That pack on your back might just feel a little lighter.

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