Does everyone fake it ‘til they make it?
Just as you are getting on top of things, another project lands on your desk. You have a task list as long as your arm and you can’t fit what you need to in a day as it stands.
You’re dropping balls everywhere and a quick glance over at your colleagues reveals they’re as ‘cool as cucumbers’, meanwhile you’re pulling your hair out!
Sometimes, noticing how well others manage their stress can make you feel worse, as you acutely observe how easy your co-workers make it look.
Beneath this veneer is usually a different reality. It’s true, but there is a lot you can learn from these types, who appear seemingly in control.
Here’s some practical advice from an insider’s perspective.
1) Keep your to-do-list really simple
You’ll come across all sorts of programmes and templates to help with project managing your workload – many of which are overly complicated and a task in themselves.
If you’re simply task managing, you just need a straightforward Red Amber Green (RAG) priority rating system in Excel.
Keeping one spreadsheet, with separate tabs for different projects, means that everything you need is in once place, making it much easier to keep an eye on each project simultaneously. Instead of dropping balls, just input everything on your document to be RAG rated and leave the ‘greens’ for another day.
2) Say NO to time wasters
…and we’re not talking about your boss.
Common time wasters include: meetings, discussions, phone calls, web surfing, emails that are unimportant etc.
Try putting set times in your diary to check your emails twice a day, put an out of office message on for a couple of hours and push back on meetings if there is no clear agenda circulated ahead of schedule.
All these time wasters will guarantee to drag you into doing something else for someone else, instead of cracking on with your own priorities.
If an urgent request sits ‘un-responded’ in your inbox, just be ready to shift priorities if your boss calls!
“Time wasters: those things that can be ignored with little or no consequence.” (Tim Ferriss)
3) Focus in on the work that expands your skill set and makes YOU look good
If you’re not your own boss and you work for someone else, then it’s up to you to get out of it (at least) as much as you put into it.
The high-profile projects that will elevate your name are where you should be putting in the hard work. Pay attention to your own development and don’t be railroaded by just making your boss look good. Show your worth, prove your team value and make sure you get management to pay for that training course you’ve got your eye on.
4) Smart delegation
Look at your to-do list – what has been sitting there the longest?
More is not always ‘better. Sometimes putting a task down, and walking away from it, is often ten times better than finishing it.
Have the courage to delete the items off your list that the boss isn’t hassling you for and develop the habit of not finishing boring or unproductive tasks if no one is demanding them. Better still, hand it off to a helpful VA service and reel in all the credit!
5) Don’t be afraid to reach out
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to managing your workload, however, realigning your priorities will help you stay focused on your goals and achievements.
Know your value and remember why you choose to do the work that you do.
Throw out those old-fashioned stoic beliefs about being a slave to the wage, and don’t allow yourself to be overloaded or suffer for it.
Confiding in your boss when you need support is a great move.
Once you have the permission to drop all of those less than important tasks, you will feel the stress lift, along with any guilt and self-inflicted feelings of inadequacy. If your boss is less than understanding, it’s probably time to find a new one.
Unnecessary stress is something you will live much longer without!
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