Today was one of those days where things were just going wrong and people were demanding of me.
Hardware failing, configuration issues, security risks, decisions to be made, etc., etc.
It takes an emotional toll, which tends to be physically draining.
How do you handle it?
I can’t say what’s the best way to handle it all, but I can say how I do it.
1. Take stock and prioritise
Often overwhelm brought on not so much by how much there is to be done, but by not knowing what to do next.
Take a look at the things that are coming your way and look at what’s the most important thing to get done. You might want to use the Covey’s Matrix to help do that.
Take that top item that must get done now – a Q1 item – and do it. It’s important to not have a to-do list with all the items nearby; just take the top item and write that on a post-it note, and work on it.
When that top item is done, then go on to the next item.
When things get busy, take a break.
Might sound counterintuitive to think about breaks when there’s so much to get done, but there are studies that show the benefit.
And take a real break by taking a walk, stretching a bit with some yoga moves, or just sit and meditate. I’ve read some pages of a book I might be into at the time, but it must be unrelated to all the work I’m doing otherwise.
3. Ask for help
Get help from others, even if it’s just to say that you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Talk to your team members or your boss for how they can help. Delegate or leverage other services when you can. Just be careful that you’re just not giving yourself another activity, like researching new outsourcing companies.
4. Drop the ball
When it gets a bit too much, just say screw it.
This goes with the first point. Once you understand your priorities, then understanding those things that you need to dump becomes easier.
Even if there are big items that I know I can’t get done, I would ask myself, "What is the worst that could happen?" If I’m okay with the consequences, and no one dies, I would drop it.
I say it’s better that some task or project falls than I do.