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Additional Ammo For Overwhelm
Be unreachable. Set aside a block of time with no distractions. Let people know that they are not to disturb you unless there's a true emergency.
Break it down. Reframe larger goals as individual actions. You may end up with more items on your to-do list, but a quicker rate of completion will make the big picture feel more manageable.
Live in the now. Don't psych yourself out by fretting over the future. After completing each task on your list, simply ask yourself, “What’s the next right action I can take?”
You know the drill: you're humming along at work and glance at the clock when—Oh no! There’s not enough time left in the day to accomplish everything on your list. You scramble to catch up, but instead end up feeling overloaded and overwhelmed. Whether you’re new to your job or trying to hold on to one you’ve had for a while, having too much on your plate can quickly put you at a disadvantage. If you continue on in this way, the quality of your work is bound to suffer. How can you get things under control?
Keep tabs on yourself. You may have gotten yourself into this situation by accepting project after project without taking into account current assignments that still had to be completed. Set aside some time each week (or every couple of days) to reflect on your workload and refocus your efforts. Be aware of your ongoing responsibilities as well as your upcoming deadlines before you take on any additional projects. Then you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself into when you volunteer for something new.
Learn to say “no.” After taking stock of your current lineup, you’ll have a better understanding of which projects are important and which are not. In fact, you may even be able to let some of them go. To avoid regularly dropping the ball, however, you’ll also need to assert yourself the next time someone asks you to take on more than you can handle. If you're usually acquiescent, people may be taken aback by your suddenly assertive behavior, but stand your ground. Remember that “no” does not mean “never,” it just means “not this time.” Perhaps you'll be able to take on something else when your workload is a little lighter.
Maintain open channels. When you turn down a project, be honest about why. Tell your supervisor that you’ve taken on too much and are unable to devote the level of energy and commitment that you feel the project deserves. Resist the urge to make up additional excuses, and ask for guidance on how to prioritize your tasks going forward. If your boss still insists that you begin something new, let him or her choose which tasks will be subsequently delayed. Explore whether an assignment might have a duplicate in another department, therefore allowing you to eliminate it. Being proactive will show that you’re a team player, not a slacker.
Go "all for one." Multitasking occasionally has its merits, but when your attention is being pulled in too many different directions, the quality of your work takes a hit. The juggling act you thought would help actually works against you, and anxiety builds as you jump back and forth from project to project. Commit to finishing one task before you begin the next—or, if you find it hard to focus on one thing indefinitely, divide your day into large, rotating blocks of time. You'll likely find that you accomplish much more when you give a task your total attention.
Give yourself a cushion. Schedule more time than you think you'll need to complete each task. Even if you're confident in your ability to finish a project within an allotted time frame, your productivity is often subject to factors beyond your control—you might get sidetracked by an unforeseen disaster, or an "easy" project could prove to be more cumbersome than expected. Don’t feel that you need to finish everything at lightning speed to impress your superiors, either. Better to have one job done well than three sloppy ones that have to be fixed at a later time.