How to avoid being overwhelmed by your work

It happens to all of us at some time.

You get overwhelmed by your work, by the things than need to get done. You get to the point where you don’t know what to do next.

This can have serious consequences. It slows you down, frustrates you, causes you stress and you don’t end up with that feeling of achievement of a job well done.

We would all like to be successful in our work, as an employee or running our own business. By being successful I mean making solid progress, not getting buried under a mountain of work and not getting the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Getting from overwhelmed

In my experience you get overwhelmed because you don’t properly plan your work, or you don’t know how to. Being successful is really a product of doing the planning right in the first place.

The first step is to identify what is really essential. So first you have to determine your objective(s). You have to be specific and have clarity about what it is you are trying to achieve. This is in terms of the overall desired outcomes of a strategy or plan, right down to specific outputs for particular projects you are working on.

The second thing you need to determine is what is the minimum necessary to achieve your objective. And what are the tools, processes, resources etc, you need in order to get where you want to be.

Getting clarity about these to steps is vital. Until you know what is absolutely necessary and the absolute minimum thats necessary to achieve your objective, you wont be really successful.

Defining what is essential

The next decision is to determine what is essential and what is not. A lot of time is spent on things that are not absolutely essential.

You can only distinguish what is truly essential and what is not, if you know exactly what is needed in order to achieve your objectives. Hence the first step above.

You see, one of the reasons why some people can work a lot less, are more successful and at the same time have a more balanced life where they can enjoy their free time, is that they focus only on what’s absolutely essential.

I believe its best to focus on one key task at a time, then if you focus on the one thing that is essential, then you have a lot more focus to move that process forward in the fastest way. You will be able to get faster results. And you will have the ability to do a lot less while still getting a lot more done.

So the simplest way to really get a handle on your schedule and to determine if you are operating under the right context is to sit down and ask yourself ‘Do I know what is absolutely essential? If you don’t then the odds are high that you are spending a lot of time on non-essential activities.

That doesn’t mean you can’t spend time on these activities. But they should always come later. If you get to complete the essential things each day, then you will have free time to do the less essential things, if they need to be done at all.

So if you are not sure what’s absolutely necessary, that needs to be first priority.

» Then take some time now to sit and think. Determine your objectives and for each one determine the absolute minimum necessary to achieve them. This will give you the required focus to be successful. Try it.

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