Feeling overwhelmed is common – in fact I’ve devoted an entire month to this time management challenge on my blog.  Sometimes even I, a time strategy visionary, can feel overwhelmed.  Many time demands, choices, and priorities caused me to shift to scheduling my day based on deadlines – not based on importance.  Rush, rush, rush, rush, rush!  UGGG!  (Wondering what in the world I’m talking about?  Check out yesterday’s post!)

So, after taking a moment to recognize the feeling, I implemented the A.W.E. principle to this dilemma.  (Hey – if the strategy works for my clients, it should work for me!)   Once I devoted time to figuring out WHY I was starting to feel anxious each morning, I was able to move out of the AWARENESS phase and I moved into the WORK phase.  

In this instance I used the 3 D’s – Delete, Delegate and Do.

  • The first step I implemented was to call my Virtual Assistant, Holly.  We talked through my upcoming priorities and what additional tasks I could delegate to her.
  • Another area I was able to delegate in was my committee obligations.  I asked for help, and when a few volunteers stepped up, I was able to delegate some tasks.
  • Secondly, I decided if I wanted to delete or adjust the bar on any of my projects.  (I’m a big believer in the 80/20 Rule – and I needed to decide on where my 80% bar was!)
    • For example,  I decided to only participate in two of the 30 day challenges I was registered for.
      • I am still completing the Ultimate Blog Challenge (30 posts, 30 days) but I will drastically cut down on the length of the posts.  One juicy meaty post per week that will be used as the basis for my newsletter – then two short posts the rest of the week.  I’ll only be blogging 12 times during the month and I’m comfortable with that commitment.
      • I scheduled a meeting with Gabe of tEkk3 to create some benchmark goals and action plans.  I don’t need to implement EVERY marketing strategy I learned in his beta program.
      • I examined the organizations I belong to and determined which were filling the most needs.  The others I chose to delete from my short term calendar.  Then, when I’m feeling less overwhelmed, I’ll determine whether or not I want to continue my membership.
    • I used the same thought process for each of the projects listed in the previous post.  Some I didn’t adjust at all, others I did.
  • Lastly, I adjusted how I planned my day.
    • I scheduled the morning to complete Quadrant 1 tasks and the afternoon to work on Quadrant 2 tasks.  (Given enough time, all Quadrant 2 tasks become Quadrant 1 tasks!  This breaks the cycle!)
    • I rearranged appointments to create an uninterrupted block of time each morning – and then worked on whatever project had the nearest deadline.
    • In the afternoon, I focused on spending at least one hour each day on moving a different project forward.   This process allowed me to spend time in both Quadrant I and Quadrant 2 each day.
    • I added an hour of self care activities to each day.  When I can take care of my mental and physical body, I’m much more productive.

What have I learned?  I know that “getting caught up” is unrealistic.  Priorities change, new opportunities present themselves causing schedules, time demands, and task lists to adjust.  But creating a schedule I’m comfortable with IS realistic.

By creating a new “plan” – deleting some activities, delegating some activities, and blocking my time with Quadrant 1 activities in one part of the day and Quadrant 2 activities in the other, I was able to reduce the feeling of overwhelm.

Otherwise, if I spend ALL my time “putting out fires” . . . the activities in Quadrant 2 (those long term projects) eventually become Quadrant 1 – URGENT – projects and my stress level increases.

By defining blocks of time for each activity, I tended to work more efficiently.  I have a firm grasp of which projects needed to be completed and in which time frame.

The final phase of A.W.E. is EVALUATION.  I’ve scheduled a 15 minute block of time in calendar this weekend to assess and evaluate my plan.  What is working?  What needs tweaking?  After only a few days – I will know what needs changed.

What strategies do you implement when you start to feel overwhelmed?  Are you an excellent delegator?  Please share?