We all have days, weeks, and sometimes seasons where our projects and commitments exceed our capacity. The question is, how do you handle it? You have two options.
- You can continue to rush around, frazzled and hectic because you have too much on your plate. (This does nothing to lower your own stress level, and it likely raises the tension and anxiety of those around you.)
- You can raise your hand and ask for help.
You see, many of us have tricked ourselves into believing that the busier we are or the more overwhelmed we are with commitments or work, the more important we are.
The truth is that carrying more than you can handle doesn’t enhance your value or bring your leader peace; rather, it worries them. Here are some pointers to keep in mind the next time you or your teammate are stretched too thin with no end in sight.
- Keep your cool. Panicking, stressing, or bemoaning your endless project list isn’t going to resolve anything. Take a deep breath and figure out your priorities.
- Communicate with your leader. How you talk to your leader about your stresses makes a huge difference. Don’t gripe, whine, or complain. Instead, say something like, “I have a lot on my plate right now, and I need your help figuring out how to prioritize everything so nothing falls through the cracks.”
- Leaders, don’t leave your people hanging. If you have a team that’s shorthanded, figure out how to get them some extra help, and it’s okay if that extra help is you. I once heard a speaker say that the leader should never stop “navigating” the ship so they can help the crew. That’s ridiculous. Everyone admires and appreciates a leader who is willing to roll up their sleeves and work alongside their team, when needed.
Our value at work should never be defined in how overworked or overstressed we are. One characteristic that makes an employee valuable is their ability to stay calm under pressure. And if you work long enough, the stress, pressure, and chaos will happen. What matters is how you handle it.
Oh, and one more thing. Whatever you do, don’t put on a show. If you like appearing busy because you feel like it enhances your job security or your status, STOP. Those around you know what your workload is; trying to appear busier than you really are only makes you look foolish.