REFLECTION: For some time now, I’ve been writing and speaking about the impact of overload and overwhelm in our lives and workplaces. We’re all familiar with the near term impact of overload – feeling crunched for time and stretched in capacity. Still, when overload is only a temporary situation, we tend to adapt and work around it.
Problems arise when overload moves from a temporary to chronic state. Chronic overloading drains energy, saps productivity, cripples capacity and poisons relationships.
So, how do we avoid that chronic state and those miserable outcomes? Downloading, uploading and offloading don’t always bring relief. What will make a difference is moving towards rightloading™. Rightloading™ engages minds, encourages hearts, energizes bodies and builds spirit at work and beyond.
ACTION: Here are ten targets to aim for when moving towards rightloading™:
- A strong, clear connection between everyday tasks and overall purpose.
- The razor sharp focus that comes with knowing what matters most.
- A challenge or two that excite your imagination and engage your energy.
- A reasonable match of size / number of tasks with available resources (stretch without snap).
- Freedom and encouragement to address and resolve issues of load.
- A balance of attention between advancing key tasks and maintaining important relationships.
- Protected periods of activity that move long term goals forward in the face of short term demands.
- A rhythm of work and life that accommodates both performance and renewal.
- Busy periods of overextension offset by slower paced times to regroup.
- A commitment to celebrating those things that are going well and moving forward.
When it comes to load, how does your personal life measure up? How does your worklife measure up? What adjustments could you and your team or family make that would move you away from overloading and towards rightloading™?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: And speaking of load, here’s a wise-cracking observation from Scott Adams of Dilbert fame: “I calculated the total time that humans have waited for web pages to load. It cancels out all the productivity gains of the information age.”
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: If your work day and work week tend to get away on you, give Cal Newport’s article on Fixed-Schedule Productivity a read. Cal is an MIT post-doc student who “explores strategies for building a remarkable life – one that’s accomplished and engaging, but also relaxed and enjoyable to live.” Not a bad goal! In this article, he tackles the issue of containing load.
READERS WRITE: In response to last week’s message, Buddy Up, Pause reader PM writes: I appreciated the survey results this morning. I have just come back from a good vacation and have been trying to figure out what is wrong with me. I am overstressed; and as I cast my eyes down the list of items, I saw several that applied to me. That is a warning sign to be sure. So, I have decided that I need to listen to the signs of overstress and do something about them. I am not sure what yet but perhaps I’ll try making a ‘not to do list’ for now and see how that might help.