Ever felt like there is too much work and too little time? Do you feel like a 9-1-1 operator just answering urgent call and urgent call while more and more calls are piling up?
If you have been in leadership for any amount of time, you can probably relate with this.
I’ve been overworked both as a boss & as an employee.
I’ve seen both perspectives so here are 3 things NOT do when you find yourself drowning in projects.
1. Don’t Keep Doing What You Are Doing
If you maintain the same direction, you will get the same results. You must quit taking on new projects and tasks immediately. Being quiet & just taking on more work, will ruin the joy of your work & your productivity. Busy people usually aren’t joyful people.
If you are an employee, you are probably saying, “Yeah, but my boss keeps giving me new things to do.” Or you might say, “We keep planning things as an organization that always seem to involve me.”
You might feel like you can’t say, “No.” The reality is that some environments don’t allow this, but when it comes to most companies I work with, there is a way to do this that will might relieve your feeling of being overwhelmed.
Step 1: Write down every project you are involved in.
Step 2: Set up meeting with your supervisor to review what’s most important (The Lead Up Meeting).
Step 3: Give them a heads up about what you want to talk about.
Most of the time, your boss has no idea how many things you have been sucked into & probably wouldn’t want you doing most of them anyway.
2. Don’t Have An Attitude About It
When you have this meeting with your supervisor, come with a spirit of “let’s work on this together.” It’s a strategic planning session for your time & help cast vision at the beginning of your meeting. I know you are stressed & you are feeling the workload. It’s tempting to come into this time with a chip on your shoulder, just don’t do it.
A few tips on casting vision to your boss…
Tip 1: Tell them that you want to be more productive for important things.
Tip 2: Show them your calendar. Like literally print it out of the last 4 weeks and show them what you are doing. Show your time allocation & project list.
Tip 3: Let them know that you need help prioritizing. Bosses love to be asked for help usually. It kinda strokes their ego to help you.
You might think that your stock will drop in the eyes of your boss and that’s why you keep working so hard. You think think the pathway to promotion is more but the reality is, it’s less. If you come to your boss with a good attitude & only focus on big impact projects, you will increase in value to your organization. The fear that is holding you back from having this conversation isn’t true. The best and most valuable team members lead up to their boss.
3. Don’t Leave Without A Clear Agreement
The goal is to eliminate projects and activities so you can be more effective. I would ask to leave with a written agreement of what are the top 3 things you should be spending your time on. This top 3 will be a grid for saying yes and no for everything in the future.
So, after this meeting, you will get asked to do stuff that isn’t inside your most important activities. If you want to gain influence at any level in the organization, you must be willing to say “NO” but the way you do it matters immensely.
Here are a few steps on how to not get back in the same position you are currently in:
Step 1: Print out your agreed upon Top 3 with your boss & visibly have it in your work space.
Step 2: When asked to be involved in something outside of this, say, “I am absolutely open to being involved in this new project. My heart is always to help the company as a team player. We decided on the Top 3 things I should be spending my time on & I’m totally open to doing something outside of this but just wanted to give you a reminder of what we talked about. If I add this new project, how would you prioritize this new work load?”
Step 3: Bring out your list of projects and ask your boss to help you create new priorities if need.
Now, here is what will happen most of the time…
Your boss will end up not putting the project on you or they will say it’s truly not the most important thing to be doing right now & won’t do the project at all.
This is called Leading Up. And before you start griping about your organization and how they overwork you, do this process. A lot of people will read this and say, “Yeah but you don’t know how our company works, this will never fly there.”
To that I say… Quit complaining about being overworked. If you know your company will overwork you & not work with you on your workload, quit. Find a new place to work because at the end of the day, nobody, including your friends want to listen to your gripe.
Take control of your workload today.
From The Austin-Berstrom International Airport’s Salt Lick Taco Bar,