6 Ways to Protect Yourself From Overload

Do you constantly say that you have too much to do and too little time?

If you have one… is your todo list a mile long?

This seems to be a common sentiment in today’s world.  Everyone has too much on their list and too many obligations to keep up with.

Have you stopped to consider why your load is so big?  How did you end up under so many obligations in the first place?

What is all of this weight holding you back?

Too Much on Your Truck?

A better question may be… where did all this weight come from?

If you are truly overloaded, how did you get there?  Over time you have taken on more than you can handle.  It did not happen instantly or overnight.

Often, this is self-inflicted time management.  You have been practicing habits and behaviors that have lead to this situation.  You have been creating your own stress and life friction.

How can we limit this load that prevents us from being productive and enjoying our day?

6 Ways to Protect from Overload

There are many habits that can lead to task overload.  Here are six behaviors to help avoid personal overload:

  1. Be Organized Enough to Know Your Load – This is an important first step.  Do you even know how much you are carrying?  When people say, “I have too much to do,” I immediately ask to see their todo list and project board.  Ironically, many of them do not have a single organized view of what they need to do.  Multiple lists and scattered papers present a jumbled perspective.  If you don’t know how much is on your plate, how can you hope to efficiently get it done?
  2. Just Say No – Are you unable to tell others no?  Do you constantly accept tasks and obligations from others?  This can be a leading source of the extra weight that holds you back.  ”Can you do this for me?”  ”Can you help me with that?”  Sometimes, the right answer is “No.”
  3. Finish to Done - Another reason your load my be too big is that you do not ever fully complete things.  Starting tasks is easy, but finishing them is hard.  You start many tasks, but do not see them to completion.  A few items completed is always more effective than many things begun.
  4. Don’t Do Everything Yourself – Busy people are often guilty of trying to do everything themselves.  They don’t delegate, either because they are too busy to do so, or they believe that someone else could not do it as well as they can.  Delegation, where appropriate, is a key skill to productivity.  Ensure you are not keeping tasks that would be better served by someone else.
  5. Set Clear Expectations – Clear expectations are essential to efficient workflow.  ”Who is going to do that?”  ”When is it going to get done?”  Have you ever found yourself working on something, only to find out that someone else was also doing it?  No one was clear about whose todo list it was on.
  6. Defend Your Time – Do you defend your time?  If not, people will steal it.  Why is it acceptable to let people take our time?  We wouldn’t let them steal our money, yet time seems to be free game.  You need to be ruthless in protecting your most valuable resource: your time.  Ensure that you have first priority on your time and do not let others unnecessarily waste it.  (A good method for this is to “Block Your Time.“)

A Lighter Load…

It is difficult to perform at your best when you are under too much weight from your tasks and obligations.  Keeping yourself from getting in an overloaded status is important.

Be aware of what you are carrying.  Make choices on what you take on.  And take charge of your time and tasks.

That pack on your back might just feel a little lighter. :)

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://OfficeDivvy.com/ Coworking

    Excellent post and great advice! It gets so much easier to be overloaded with all the tasks, collaborative projects, all the news and information. We’ll share it with our members and our community.

    Ky Ekinci
    Co-Founder
    Office Divvy ™

  • http://OfficeDivvy.com Coworking

    Excellent post and great advice! It gets so much easier to be overloaded with all the tasks, collaborative projects, all the news and information. We’ll share it with our members and our community.

    Ky Ekinci
    Co-Founder
    Office Divvy ™

  • http://www.geoffsnyder.com/ Geoff Snyder

    Great post! It’s nice that ‘basics’ even apply to time. Thank you for sharing this…I am forwarding this to my girlfriend who is a full time law student and work a full time job at the same time!

  • http://www.geoffsnyder.com Geoff Snyder

    Great post! It’s nice that ‘basics’ even apply to time. Thank you for sharing this…I am forwarding this to my girlfriend who is a full time law student and work a full time job at the same time!

  • http://www.makepeace.biz Drew

    A few years ago my new year’s resolution was “Say ‘No’ more often.” It worked well.

  • http://www.makepeace.biz/ Drew

    A few years ago my new year’s resolution was “Say ‘No’ more often.” It worked well.

  • http://thewearypublicist.blogspot.com/ Laura Scholz

    Love these tips. I’ve been practicing saying “no” a lot, and delegation has been key to me growing my business this year AND cutting down on my work burden. I think the key is #6–”guarding your time.” I tend to treat my running time as sacred, but nothing else. Now, I have scheduled time for meetings and calls, for working on projects, for working out, for friends and family.

    Another tip–get rid of distractions! Facebook, Twitter, email, the internet in general, TV–all of these can keep you from completing a project on time and can make you feel more overwhelmed than you actually are.

    Keep the good tips coming!

  • http://thewearypublicist.blogspot.com Laura Scholz

    Love these tips. I’ve been practicing saying “no” a lot, and delegation has been key to me growing my business this year AND cutting down on my work burden. I think the key is #6–”guarding your time.” I tend to treat my running time as sacred, but nothing else. Now, I have scheduled time for meetings and calls, for working on projects, for working out, for friends and family.

    Another tip–get rid of distractions! Facebook, Twitter, email, the internet in general, TV–all of these can keep you from completing a project on time and can make you feel more overwhelmed than you actually are.

    Keep the good tips coming!

  • http://josiahstaggs.com/ Josiah Staggs

    Well put, i can definitely relate to this. I build websites for the purpose of putting ads, affiliate or cpa offers on them. This has been my main source of income but i do some design work as well. It’s hard to turn down work but when i do, my sites tend to suffer a bit.

  • http://josiahstaggs.com Josiah Staggs

    Well put, i can definitely relate to this. I build websites for the purpose of putting ads, affiliate or cpa offers on them. This has been my main source of income but i do some design work as well. It’s hard to turn down work but when i do, my sites tend to suffer a bit.

  • http://favit.com/marfi Martin

    The art of saying “NO”…

  • http://favit.com/marfi Martin

    The art of saying “NO”…

  • Amit Maisuria

    Excellent post…something that I find useful aswell is the Urgent / Important Box…helps plan your workload and prioritise…what’s urgent and important ! There are a variety of descriptions for it on the Internet, one of the best I found was on the following website: http://www.businessballs.com/timemanagement.htm#urgent_important_grid_time_management.

  • Amit Maisuria

    Excellent post…something that I find useful aswell is the Urgent / Important Box…helps plan your workload and prioritise…what’s urgent and important ! There are a variety of descriptions for it on the Internet, one of the best I found was on the following website: http://www.businessballs.com/timemanagement.htm#urgent_important_grid_time_management.

  • guest

    Great ideas, except that I work for a very large computer services company and have about a dozen people who have authority to assign me work.
    Say no: “but we really need you to get this done”
    Delegate: offshore team “we are not responsible for that”
    Bring this up to management: “we'll have to look into that”

  • http://www.simplelifetool.com Simply Life Tool

    This article was great. Many times i feel that i am overloaded with things i need to do. I have come to the conclusion that i have a problem saying no. When people ask me to do things i always say yes and it ends up hurting me. This article gave me some really good ideas on how to avoid being overloaded. Thank you for the post.

  • http://www.timemanagementninja.com Craig Jarrow

    Glad you liked it. Saying no can be tough. :)

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  • HomemakersDaily

    How do you manage to keep getting inside my head!  I just had a meltdown the other day because I had too much to do and not enough time to do it but it all had to be done!  I told my husband I was sick of just going from urgent thing-to-thing-to-thing and never getting to do anything relaxing.  I have two big problems you addressed on your list (well, maybe more – but 2 that I’m willing to deal with right now).  One is that I’ve been doing a “planner dance” between two sizes and the end result is that I’m not using either one very well.  I’ve always been pretty organized and knew exactly what I needed to do – but not anymore.  Add ADHD to that and you’ve got one messed up mind!  I have to pick a planner and stick with it so I know what the heck’s going on in my life.  The stuff swimming around in my head is way worse than reality. 
     
    Also, I am guilty of not finishing things.  I get my weekly paperwork nearly done and then move on to something else.  That’s just one example.  I’m not horrible about this but I do it enough and on important enough things that it’s messing with my mind. 
     
    So thanks for the reminder that I have to solve these problems or end up in the funny farm. 

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