Many Westchester County business owners have told me that they feel like a hamster on a wheel. They are overworked and overwhelmed. Many blame the rapid pace of business or the economic fact that business must do more with less. Technology has made our lives easier, right? Yes, but it has also created more pressure. Instant communication on handheld devices gives us the sense of urgency and feeling that we must always be working. Everything seems to go faster, leaving everyone feeling overworked, overloaded, and overwhelmed.
Some people may suggest that this is an issue of time management. The real issue is not time management but understanding your goals and your purpose. Here are some tips on surviving being overwhelmed.
1. Know Your Purpose.
Do you have a roadmap and purpose? That would be your vision, your goals, and your plans. Each day identify the tasks you must accomplish and prioritize them. Also, set aside time to invest in your future. If you have yet to write out your life priorities, then take time to do this. It could be the most important hour that you spend in your life.
2. Say No.
Be fiercely protective of your time. Make sure each new commitment adds value for you. Do what is necessary and then stop. Rather than ask yourself, "What can I do?" ask, "What can I not do?" Avoid low value tasks, new projects, and distractions. Then tell people about your decisions. Huge amounts of effort are wasted by people trying to complete tasks that someone else decided to ignore.
3. Schedule Life.
Even if you ride an accelerating treadmill, you can step off occasionally. Leave work at 5:00 p.m. on Friday. Take Saturday or Sunday off. Give yourself a two minute break to close your eyes, rub your neck, or meditate. Set a date with family members for a meal or an activity. You may want to put this date on your calendar as if it were an important business appointment because it is.
4. Protect Yourself.
When you’re tired, your efficiency falters. Thus, eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, avoid toxic habits, and exercise (use the stairs, do crunches or push-ups in your office, take a five minute yoga break). If possible, schedule exercise as if it were a business appointment.
5. Be Efficient.
Spend time only with people who add value to your life. Buy only from companies that provide support. Hold effective meetings. Decline invitations to meetings without an agenda as I guarantee these will accomplish nothing. Avoid conflicts; they always cost time to repair. Keep your cool; anger always costs you more than what it achieves. Take a moment to plan before starting a task.
Above all set goals for your work and your life. A good work life balance and a time management strategy will keep you on track and avoid becoming overwhelmed.
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