Overwhelm requires our attention, not intention

I can meditate all I like, but if my workload exceeds the hours in my work day, I am still going to be behind. 

I can speak out affirmations to the Universe that I can handle all things that are thrown at me, but if there is too much work then this will not suffice. 

I can be a self-awareness Ninja and see all my reactions to stress, but that won’t reduce the volume of work. 

Are you hearing me? We need to be clear on what is in front of us and what is taking our attention. Our intention to have less to work on, and be calmer, is not enough. 

So where to start? I love Bob Anderson’s (Founder of The Leadership Circle) perspective on leading yourself; 

‘If you can’t see it, it controls you. If you see it, you control it’. Now he was referring to self-awareness, but I think the same goes for our workload. If we are not fully aware of what is on our plate, what we prioritise, and what we leave, then we fall easily into the tsunami of overload. The workload controls us, not us controlling it. 

Now you may be saying; ‘Georgia I can freakin’ see how much work I have and what is coming at me’. Let’s see if this is really true or just a feeling you have. 

It’s important to be able to plot where our attention goes – on projects, tasks, people, meetings, systems, and anything that is work-related. Plotting where and how we spend our time should be less about feelings and more about data. 

When I worked in management consulting and we were asked to pitch for work, or we chose to pitch, we had a clear ‘Bid Strategy’. This allowed us to quantify 6 key questions to decide whether the time and effort, of pulling together the proposal would be worth it. Once we plugged in the answers to the questions, we had a yes or no answer to pitch for the work. People would get emotional about this. Sometimes some of the people wanted to try and go for it, no matter what. And others had no idea. This data-driven process made for more robust decisions and importantly didn’t over-commit our people to deliver. 

When we don’t quantify the cost or the benefit of doing something we can tend to make opinion-based decisions or avoid them altogether. Like; ‘I think we should do this’ or ‘I’m confident this is a good decision’. These are opinions. We need more grounded data to know if the decision is closer to the truth or not. 

More attention-focused decision-making is what we need right now. Less intention and hoping it all works out. 

We work with teams to help them be clear on what they are spending their time on, and where it should be, based on the time and resources they have. Are you?

Feeling swamped by your workload no matter how good your intentions are? It’s time to move beyond that and start paying attention. Join me for my free online session ‘Managing Overwhelm at Work’. Check it out here.