Reflection: It would be a fine thing indeed if the flow of our work was more evenly paced – with a perfect match between demands and time/energy available. Sadly, in today’s world, the size of the load tends to be much greater than the resources at hand – often with no end or relief in sight.
Still, in some worlds there are periods of high and low demand. For instance, in the face of looming tax deadlines, accountants know that February and March will be Crazy Time. The rest of the year, perhaps not so much!
When I facilitated a recent Boosting Energy program, one of the participants asked for some ideas to handle an uneven workflow that seesaws between too heavy and too light. If that is sometimes an issue in your world, too, here are a few suggestions for shifting gears.
Action: During heavy times, focus and prioritize.
- Stay current with others about the current status of everybody’s load. When delegating to others ask what impact the new task will have on their loads, and offer to help reprioritize.
- Use prioritizing tools to help narrow the focus to the key tasks at hand. Sort items that that can wait to the bottom of the list – or defer to slower times.
- Be sure to build in renewing pauses. The more hectic the pace, the more we need to step away and refresh. It’s counter-intuitive, but highly effective in bolstering flagging energy.
- Explore the possibility of working longer hours during hectic times – with an offsetting plan for taking deferred time off during slower times.
During lighter times, embrace the pace with grace.
- Celebrate the accomplishments of the challenging busier periods.
- Tap into learning goals. Build skills and expand knowledge when you aren’t so pressed to perform at a breakneck pace.
- Reconnect everyone to the purpose of the work.
- Use this time to gear up for the busy times. Get ahead on tasks or improve processes that will make the heavy work periods easier to manage.
- Use the time to strengthen relationships with others.
- Take deferred time off to balance those extra hours of overtime from the busy period.
- If appropriate, consider working even fewer hours during the less demanding times. Taking lesser pay in return for working fewer hours can be a way to pursue other interests outside the workplace.
Quotes Of The Week: I wish I could go back and tell myself that not only is there no trade-off between living a well-rounded life and high performance, performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder and giving. That would have saved me a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout and exhaustion. – Arianna Huffington
Crazy-busy’ is a great armor, it’s a great way for numbing. What a lot of us do is that we stay so busy, and so out in front of our life, that the truth of how we’re feeling and what we really need can’t catch up with us. – Brene Brown
Resources Of The Week: This is a helpful article by Emotional Intelligence expert, Travis Bradberry of Talent Smart: Ten Signs You’re Burning Out (And How To Stop It).
Do you struggle with setting priorities and narrowing your focus? Check out this summary of Gary Keller’s concept, The One Thing.