What do you do when there’s too much work and not enough day? Some would say work harder or work longer hours. That may get you out of an immediate bind but it’s not a good long term plan. When there’s too much to do that is exactly the right time to take a step back and assess.
Don’t confuse busy-ness with true productivity
At the end of the month /quarter / year you will not be measured by how busy you were but by the results you achieved. Here’s a quote from Gerry McGovern, web content management author and consultant:
The world is full of busy people, but there is a definite lack of quality planners and project managers. Stop measuring yourself on how busy you are. Start measuring yourself on how effective you are.
Feeling overwhelmed doesn’t make you a bad leader
But not doing anything about it could. It’s absolutely okay to say you’ve got too much on your plate. The earlier you catch it, the easier it is to rectify.
Reach out to colleagues or your manager for a fresh brainstorming session or do the brainstorming yourself and then meet to assess your potential solutions together . If you have direct reports you can bring them in so that they share in the learning. Don’t worry about letting them know too much. If you’re in overwhelm mode they already know. Seeing you take a leadership approach to a difficult situation will help build respect and team work.
Once you’re clear of the suffocating what-do-I-do-next feeling, it’s useful to look back to identify where things went off the rails. You can do this alone or with others. The purpose is not to find out who did what wrong, it’s to figure out how you will handle the situation differently the next time. This is essential learning and builds leadership skills.