Are you suffering from overload?
Whether it is the 100s of
emails which sit in our inbox, the back to back meetings, the plethora of
networking meeting choices (certainly if you live in Oxfordshire!), keeping up
with people on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the huge wealth of activities
you and your children might be involved in, outside of work. When do we have
time to do our ‘real’ work; sleep, eat and have some downtime?
In 2006, I wrote an Inspire about the difference between
stress and pressure and how to keep in the ‘zone of optimal performance’ (click here to read the newsletter).
This is where we feel energised, stimulated, stretched but not strained and
stressed. Keeping this in mind, it does seem even more vital today to find a
way to deal with this potential overload when there are so many options and
opportunities available to us.
designing a workshop or presentation I always keep in mind the expression ‘less
is more’. It is so tempting to cover too much when you feel passionate about
something but the wider you go, the shallower people’s experience. We seem to
have got caught up in the idea that ‘more is more’, more followers on Twitter,
Facebook, more meetings, more emails, more activities for the kids. Thinking
that somehow ‘more’ will improve our working and home lives. But we end up with
surface relationships, spreading ourselves too thin and, perhaps, becoming a
‘jack of all trades’.
As I write this, I am aware that having joined 4Networking
for 200 days (they had a great introductory offer), there is a temptation to
rush around going to lots of different groups, meeting lots of people but not
having the depth of conversation which will lead to creating strong connections
In thinking about ‘less is more’, I am reminded of the
following quote, which whenever I read it leaves me with a sense of peace:
‘Along the way to knowledge,
Many things are accumulated.
Along the way to wisdom,
Many things are discarded.
Less and less effort is used,
Until things arrange themselves.
Harmonious action maintains control:
Exertion upsets the balance.’
Tao Te Ching
comes to work and, carrying out higher order mental functions such as solving
problems, making decisions, writing reports, dealing with challenging
interactions, our brain needs a ‘clear head’, literally a clear space to
operate effectively. See my 2012 Inspire on ‘The link between your brain,
energy and performance’, click here.
When we try and cram too much into our working day and our lives, it decreases
our performance. There is a fine line between being stretched and strained.
‘Learn to distinguish between straining and stretching
- the former leads to injury, the latter to development’
Anne Dickson – A Book of Your Own
It is easy when
you are feeling overloaded and overwhelmed to lose sight of the big picture and
start shuffling around pieces of paper, meetings, priorities, rather than stepping
back to see why you are doing what you are doing:
- Ask yourself, ‘why am I here?’ This might be about what is
the main purpose of my role/job or why am I doing this job in the first place.
A recent coaching client was taking a step back and thinking, ‘Am I on the
right track here? Do I really want to be doing this for the next 20 or 30
years?’ Given that we are all probably going to live much longer and we are
likely to have working lives that are longer than our parents, it is important
to do something that we value and enjoy. If you need assistance with this then
email me email@example.com
for information about my free coaching audit.
- Decide on your ‘Big Rocks’ What are the essential things you
need to focus on both in and out of work – if you have colleagues and a family
you might want to discuss this with them and agree on the main focus for your
time and attention. Click here for an explanation of Big Rock Theory of Time Management
- Remember the 20:80 rule Part of deciding on your Big Rocks
is the 20:80 rule that 80% of your results, success, output comes from 20% of
your actions. In fact, it is usually found that 20% of sales will account for
80% of profits. See Richard Koch on this YouTube clip explaining this: click here.
He talks about creating ‘more from less’, finding the ‘vital few in the trivial
many’. Focusing on the essential tasks that are going to create your success.
- 20:80 rule in your family life This also relates to out of work:
most families say that they want a happy and healthy family life, yet if you
look at the activities they engage in probably 80% is about activities which
don’t lead to health or happiness. So talk to your family about the 20% that
you each want to focus on.
- Raise your life state Having read Michael Neill’s ‘The
Inside Out Revolution’, he says that it is important not to make life changing
or big decisions when you are in the least resourceful place to do that. If you
are feeling overwhelmed, do something to help you to take a step back, get into
a good frame of mind to look at things in a logical and wise way. One of the
benefits of coaching is that it gives you the space and the techniques to do
this. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information about my coaching programmes and to take my free coaching
audit to see how coaching could benefit you. Or take a look at the back issues
of Inspire, which have lots of hints and tips to help you with this: click here.
'The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic
They are the moments when we touch one another.'
Some of these points
have been mentioned in previous editions of Inspire but they are worth listing
- Look at emails at set times of the day to control their
interruptions – unless your job is managing the emails that come in! For
example, 9am, 2pm and 4pm.
- Scan the list of emails to focus your time and attention on
the essential ones.
- Unsubscribe from mailing lists which do not help you with
your job, either directly or indirectly. For example, Inspire might indirectly
help you by giving you food for thought each month and inspiring you to take
action to become happier, more efficient and effective, in which case it is helping
you to do your job!
- When you are not dealing with your emails quit Outlook so
that you are not distracted by the pinging of your emails coming in.
- Cut down on the amount of meetings, or their length Discuss
with colleagues which meetings are actually contributing to the success of the
business/organisation. It is amazing that with good chairing of a meeting how
much can get done in a short period of time. It can be a matter of ‘less is
more’, you become more focussed when there is less time.
- Clear your desktop and your desk to create some ‘mental
space’ for your brain to think clearly about what it is doing.
- Do nothing for 2 minutes I’ve introduced www.donothingfor2minutes.com many times in Inspire and one my clients now uses it regularly and finds it a
useful way to calm down their whole system. If you think that you don’t have
time for it then you definitely need it!
‘My cup runneth over may in some contexts be a declaration
Emptying it fully is as important as filling.’
Anne Wilson Schaef
While looking for quotes I came across TS Eliot, The Rock,
which seems very appropriate for this topic:
‘The endless cycle of idea and action.
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness.
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence.
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
Where is the life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
For the full poem click here.