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“I am so busy.” This is a standard response if you ask a handful of people how work is going. For many, busy is a positive response. It implies they are needed at work and passionate about what they do. But for others, this busyness feels more like an anchor pulling them down, like they are running toward a finish line they can’t reach. It means they wake up each day feeling behind. Carrying a “to do” list that doesn’t seem to be getting shorter can turn into feelings of guilt or shame, further negatively impacting the individual. Those who feel this burden can try to turn this dread into excitement by practicing self-compassion and recalibrating priorities.
Those under a mountain of work without relief in sight should take time to strategize. It may sound counterintuitive to spend time planning, but this step will help you recalibrate priorities. First, look at each task on your list and evaluate the level of urgency. If something doesn’t need to be done this week, move it to another list and off your action items. Second, evaluate whether you can get help on the task. Do you need to be the person to complete the task, or can you delegate it to another team member? Often, we are overwhelmed by responsibilities that could be moved off our plate for one reason or another. Freeing up your time for urgent items that you must own can shrink your priorities and be used as a guide to help you determine what projects to take on in the future. This is especially important for “yes people” who tend to accept assignments without thinking twice.
You cannot be all things to all people. When you are hitting it out of the park as a spouse or friend, you are likely not able to put in the same effort at work and vice versa. You are but one person. Instead of beating yourself up, try being generous with yourself. How can you reframe the situation to focus on your value instead of a deficit? The words you use to speak to yourself are very important and impact your actions. Look for opportunities to acknowledge your work. For example, what if you chose to celebrate your accomplishments at the end of each day? It is easy to overlook what you were able to get done when you feel like work is piling up.
No one wants to get up in the morning and dread going to work because of an intense pressure to catch up. Neither does anyone want to carry feelings of guilt or shame home, interrupting time you should be enjoying away from your desk. Your time is valuable and can be reclaimed by being gentle with yourself and taking another look at your priorities.