As a leader of your business, family, sporting club or group it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed at times. The actual benefit of feeling completely overwhelmed is that it is highlighting to you that your planning function & possibly thought process is not outlined as it should be.
How is it that some humans can create a ton of spreadsheets, wall charts and to do lists and be completely calm, happy and almost annoyingly pleasant to be around in the office? It’s simple. They have nailed the main thing that used to make them feel out of control, stressed and anxious. Process planning.
Do this quick assessment of where you are at to see if you agree.
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed right now, then think firstly about whether you have a clear list of tasks that are needed to be done? Most probably not.
Next, think about is that list of tasks in order of most urgent to not? Hard to do as urgencies change.
Thirdly I want you to consider if you have enough resources, help ie people that you can delegate the tasks/jobs to get them done on time?
Process, planning & then delegation are the steps you need to stop yourself from getting stressed out. Now there are of course other things that can lead to a sense of doom and snowed under, like budgetary constraints, timeline over runs, looming deadlines etc.
It’s important to “start at the start” and always have your process, then your planning and then delegation.
Let’s dive through each one for a practical “how to” on each.
Tools you will need:- A pen. 5 pieces of A4 paper (or A5. I prefer A5 size). 1 highlighter.
(For all you tech geniuses out there, wanting to do this on a spread sheet, feel free)
Process: Simply, it’s how you are going to capture and organise your thoughts, tasks and jobs.
The most common is a to do list. This is a great preventer of how to stop overwhelm.
First step is to do a “mind dump”. Getting it out of up there and down onto paper.
Important part of a mind dump, is that you don’t sort or censor when you are dumping.
You don’t need fancy lists, just grab a piece of paper. On the left-hand side write down all the tasks/jobs that are bouncing around in your head. I mean everything, it doesn’t matter if its work related, family related, club related. Get it all down on paper.
Now we are going to go through the mind dump and highlight all the personal ME items. These are items that are only related to you as a person/individual ie fitness, meditation etc etc. Family is another sheet, don’t mix the 2. Without you there is no-one else.
Once you’ve highlighted all the personal ME items, go through and rank them into 3 categories:
Critical = C
Definition of critical: Must be done today or you will miss a deadline, lose more than $250 or miss an opportunity you don’t believe will arise again in the next 6 months. No exceptions.
48 hrs = 48
Definition of 48 hrs: Must be done in the next 2 days due to deadlines or timeline constraints or it means you will lose $100 if not done.
Week = W
Definition of week: Tasks to be done when critical and 48 hr tasks have been finished.
Definition of W are tasks that need to be done, but are not C or 48.
Now get a piece of blank paper & write ME PERSONAL at the top of a blank piece of paper.
Go back to your mind dump list and transcribe all the critical items first. As you’ve listed it on the ME personal list, cross it out with 1 line on your mind dump sheet.
Now turn over that ME personal list & on the back of the page write the 48 at the top and the W’s from half way down to the bottom.
Now go through the mind dump sheet and highlight all the work tasks.
Go through all the work tasks and allocate them as C, 48, W. (Resist the urge to mark everything as critical. Only put it as critical if it truly is.)
Now get a piece of blank paper & write WORK at the top of a blank piece of paper.
Go back to your mind dump list and transcribe all the critical items first. As you’ve listed it on the work list, cross it out with 1 line on your mind dump sheet.
Now turn over that work list & on the back of the page write the 48 at the top and the W’s from half way down to the bottom.
Do the same step for the next categories on your mind dump list.
If you have family commitments ie kids or a partner or are close to your mum and dad, do those.
If you have a sporting club that you are active in and it makes up a big part of what you do, write a separate list for that. Only separate out lists for key areas of your life.
The main list areas will be: personal me, work, family. Then you can do ones for clubs you are in charge of etc.
Once you have exhausted your mind dump list and all items have been transcribed, you are now ready to sort your day out.
The sorting your day out, ideally, is done the night before. I do this step before I leave each day, so that when I walk in the next morning, I’m already planned and focused on what has to be done, in order.
Rank your lists in the order that suits you. My order of lists are:
Personal me first
Radio show fourth
Now you’ve probably guessed what the next step is. Simply go through each of the critical items on each list. For the ME personal list, you may have to do some of those outside work hours ie going to gym, meditating etc. Point is, it focuses you in on what to do and when.
Now, the hardest one of these lists is the work list.
You may have to go through your work list and itemise each point with a “Who’s responsible” tag. That way if you tag say, John in IT as the responsible for an item, you can allocate it to JOHNS workflow and then you know that you have to follow it up with him.
As a leader, at least half your time, is spent building relationships, communicating, performance assessing and following up with your team because that’s what being a leader is, leading people, not budgets or spreadsheets.
Whilst you have to perform all your functions, leadership of people will get you the most gains and also the most grief, if not done properly.
So that’s the basis of putting in a strategy to stop you from hitting overwhelm as much as you may currently do. You will still get stressed or anxious, but now that you have a process and a plan mapped out, you are going to be able to fulfill your duties a lot quicker and more methodically, which will then give you a reference point to go back to when you mind plays tricks on you and makes you feel stressed out.
To your success.