Every once in awhile, we have weeks when we are back up against the wall with work, and regardless of progress, you feel like you cannot get ahead. You suddenly find yourself as Sisyphus rolling that ridiculous boulder up the hill and watch it storm back down, over and over. About a few months ago, my colleague Andy Kzmarzick wrote up a great post on The Busy Trap. Be sure to take a look at his post, which helps re-frame what “busy” actually means.
Then again, there are times when we become swamped with work. It is easy to get stressed and feel overwhelmed, the harder part about being busy is learning how to handle and manage your emotions. When things get rough, here are some things I have done.
Accept You Are Busy & Prioritize
My system is that usually at the start of the month, I write out everything I need to get done during the month, identifying ongoing projects, and write out anything that I might be working on. I’ve found this to be helpful in prioritizing what work is important, what needs to get done, and getting a pretty solid look at the month of ahead. Each week I’ll check back, cross things off and add items if necessary. For me, seeing visually what I need to get done helps me out a lot, and if I know what weeks might be a little crazy, I can do my best to prepare and identify solutions to manage the workload.
Just take a break
Not just a break when you get home from the office, let your brain rest during the day. During lunch I’ll usually go for a longer walk, eat in a park or do something to refocus and take a short break. A lot this really depends on you, I’d recommend just taking a little time to think through what relaxes you and lets you refocus. Add it into your routine.
Identify Ways to Get Help
Busy weeks are inevitable and learning how to manage them is important. It’s also important to realize that if weeks are busy week after week, and you are not getting a break, you need to find a way to get help from coworkers or work with a supervisor to identify and prioritize key projects. Supervisors should help you manage and prioritize your work. If you’re a supervisor and see that your employees are continually loaded with work, be sure to engage them and work collaboratively to know the right way to get them help.
Being busy is a great problem to have. Put Steve Jobs "reality distortion," into play, think about what you need to get done and find a way to do it. Once you get through the busy week, you can reflect back and say, "I can't believe I did all this in that amount of time." Keep looking forward, that's why prioritizing work is so important, you need to be sure what you are doing is going to providing the greatest bang for your buck, when working with limited time and resources.
Get Your Rest!
Sleep is so important to productivity. It’s one of the most important things we can do. Make sure you are getting enough rest and making sure to recharge.
Again, at times we all just have to accept we are going to be busy, and learning how to manage our emotions, staying upbeat and learning how to fight through until things calm down, is really important to learn for your physical and emotional health.
GovLoop has a lot of great resources on work-life balance. I’d love to hear some of the things that you do and how you manage your time and unwind when things get busy.