A couple of years ago, in a previous job, I found myself in a particularly busy period. We were focusing on big growth strategies for the business, had more and more client work with tight deadlines and I had greater numbers of people to manage.
I’m talking crazy busy. Long, long days with a lot of financial impact on the projects I was leading.
In the course of one month, I took the lead role across eight new client projects, worked across four big new business pitches – not to mention building my company’s strategic plan and ensuring everyone within the team was happy and on track.
Have you ever found yourself in this situation, feeling like you have too much work to do and not enough time to step back and think about what you’ve achieved and what you need to focus on?
If the answer is yes, consider yourself normal. As a Coach, I have conversations with people about this problem almost every day. Too much to do and no time to reflect and focus on the future
The great news is that this state of being can change. Whether you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or a bit of both.
Here are seven strategies I used to regain balance in the midst of busy periods and ones I use with my clients.
I’m confident, if put into action, these can help you too:
1. Accept Responsibility
Take ownership of how you’re feeling and take responsibility for accepting to do all of that busy work. I was the one that took on all of that work, and didn’t give myself enough time to plan effectively.
I was running from meeting to meeting, handling multiple projects and probably not giving the right attention and focus to the ones that really mattered.
Rather than taking a step back and being clear on the projects and activities that would create the biggest impact I just did everything.
I made the commitments that impacted my time, energy and focus. In a way, no one forced me.
When we see ourselves as responsible for everything, becoming victims to the decisions we made, we’re powerless to change our circumstances. But the truth is we have choices.
We can say NO to the work. We can delegate or outsource some of it, or, as a minimum, build in longer deadlines.
2. Confront Your FOMO
So often I used to find myself overcommitted because I was afraid to say “no.” This could be because I didn’t want to disappoint my boss or a client or I was worried about another supplier picking up the work.
Another key reason was because I was worried about missing out on an opportunity. We sometimes feel like we should take on everything, but if we gave ourselves some headspace to reflect, we would say no more often.
We would look at the bigger picture and ask ourselves questions like “Am I the only person who could do this work?” “Does this opportunity fit within my overarching goals for myself and my business?”
The Fear of Missing Out can be very powerful, but in the end it is pointless as you are just following someone else’s agenda.
3. Keep Your Perspective
We often get so wrapped up in the moment that we can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. See a future that’s not full of constant tasks, projects and busy work.
This is actually the optimal time to step back, reflect and think about what you have achieved and will achieve during this busy period.
4. Change Your Calendar
As an entrepreneur you are in complete control of your time. You may have lots of projects to work on and many impending deadlines but you can make changes to give yourself some time to think and focus.
Even though I had a huge amount of client projects to work on, there were some things I could change. I bought myself more time finalizing the strategy document for the business and delegated some of the pitch work to my teams.
If you don’t have the right levels of energy and focus to maximize your unique abilities and to be truly present with the work you are doing then you won’t be fully committed and the work won’t be as good.
You can ask for an extension, say no to a project or delegate. If you can automate some of the processes that are taking up your time, even better.
5. Focus On The Most Important Thing First
Multi-tasking at 20% capacity and worrying about everything drops our energy levels and focus. Plus, it makes us really unproductive.
Your workload may look impossible, as mine did at the time, but I just focused on the most important thing first, and kept moving forward.
To help you plan your day more effectively download my FREE Daily Productivity Planner to help your stay focused and productive.
6. Get Plenty Of Rest
I learnt this lesson a long time ago and it has really helped me through any really busy period.
Personally, I can take on most things if I feel energised and had a good nights’ sleep. We all have different periods of the day where we just seem to work a bit better. For me, it is the morning. For you, it may be in the evening.
If I am tired, I can lose motivation and perspective. Things can often feel bigger than they actually are. With the right amount of rest, you are on alert and you often give yourself the proper time to make decision rather than jumping to one because you are tired and you don’t have the willpower or brainpower to think things through.
When I’m distracted I can also become easily distracted. What about you? Also, if you feel yourself becoming stressed or overwhelmed, take yourself out of the situation. Go for a walk, go to the gym, meditate – whatever works for you to get refocused.
7. Make The Commitment To Change
I couldn’t continue at my previous pace, and I didn’t have to. I made the conscious decision to say no more and be clearer about what I was going to work on and when. I took control of my time and focused it in the areas and the projects that really mattered.
I decided that my time had to be focused on the areas where I could create the biggest impact based on my unique abilities.
To succeed both personally and professionally, we must deliberately build more freedom and focus time into our lives, or our busy time will become permanent. No one else is going to do this for us.
The more I follow these strategies and create the daily habits to keep me on track, the less often it happens. Instead of running nonstop with no end in mind I now have the energy to focus on the things and people that matter most.