“I’m feeling overwhelmed.”
This is the second most common complaint I hear from nonprofit leaders, and it often comes up in executive coaching sessions with my clients. “I feel like I am underwater, and I just can’t seem to get everything done. I work past 6:00 pm, I work weekends, and I can’t get ahead of this wave of tasks and work.” It seems that no matter how many hours we work, the “to do” list just keeps growing.
The toughest part about feeling overwhelmed is the sense that you lack control of your schedule, your workflow, and your priorities. To take control of your workdays and your weekends, it is essential to manage your time, your energy, and your relationships.
Your time is how you spend your hours and your days. Any of us can have an extraordinarily busy day without feeling overwhelmed or out of control. The infrequent day with back-to-back meetings doesn’t lead to burnout.
Your energy is how you spend weeks, and months and years. And, ultimately, your energy is the result of how well you manage time (your hours and days). If you have several weeks or months without time to think and plan, you start to become reactive and feel overwhelmed.
Your relationships are how you invest your time and energy. If you make time and energy for your colleagues, your board, and your family, you will have healthier and nurturing relationships. These relationships keep you strong during hard times, and they make the good times that much better.
I often work with coaching clients to help them develop a few simple habits to gain more control over their work and stop feeling overwhelmed:
- Eliminate your email and phone distractions
- Take control of your schedule (schedule desk time, set good boundaries about meetings, etc.)
- Categorize your fires
- Own your “to-do list” (Don’t let others set your priorities, be realistic about how much time things will take)
- Organize your workspace
- Learn to say “no” without fear or resentment
- Manage up and manage down
Implementing just one of these will dramatically decrease your sense of being swamped. But doing them all will give you a renewed sense of productivity, balance, and success. For this reason, I’ve developed a single blog post on each one. We’ll have the next installment of this blog series in two weeks.
Additionally, I’ve developed a free webinar on this subject. You can register for our free webinar that will help you to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed. The live webinar is on October 14 from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM ET, and you can register for it here.