If everything is number one, then nothing is number one.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You get up early, after going to bed late. You eat your breakfast, maybe. You get dressed, but you’re not sure if you wore this outfit within the last few days. Your commute feels a bit like shopping at a popular store on Black Friday, fighting for position, pushing and shoving your way to work.
You arrive at work with your desk phone all lit up with voicemails. Your email inbox is depressingly full. There’s a new stack of documents on your desk brandishing a yellow sticky with the words “NEED THIS TODAY!” written on them, and this stack is next to the stack you left on your desk yesterday. You look around the office, and you’re sure that every single person in your open-bay style office is glaring at you wondering what your problem is.
You sit down, staring at your desk, depressed. You have no energy, no motivation, no desire to work. “What is wrong with me?” you ask yourself. “I used to love this job. But now all I want to do is sleep — or drink!”
You may be one of the many millions of workers who have overloaded themselves and are now suffering the consequences. You may not even be aware of it since this sinister problem can develop slowly, without warning. Even if you have the best of intentions, it can still happen. But how do you know you’re overloaded? The answer is different for each person, but from my experience here are ten signs you might be overloaded.
Ten Signs You Might Be Overloaded
1. The first sign is the obvious one. You experience a general fatigue that you can’t seem to shake.
2. You notice increasing numbers of things you’re missing; a planned meeting or phone call, something someone said earlier that you now can’t remember, etc.
3. You are struggling just to maintain your primary responsibilities, rather than go above and beyond them to create, innovate, imagine or dream.
4. You snap at people you love and care about.
5. You notice the quality of your work is compromised.
6. More and more people stop by to ask, “Are you alright?”
7. The smallest disappointments seem enormous, emotionally. You even surprise yourself with your extreme reactions to them.
8. You have increased feelings of depression.
9. You appear to be the last one in the office or your family to know something. You’re missing information, where before you did not.
10. Your joy is gone. Your fire is now an ember.
Ok, So What Can I Do?
If you believe you are overloaded, then you must take steps to rebalance your life. The first thing I would do is get adequate rest. When you are rested, then get out your journal or notepad and write down all the things you are doing right now. This exercise might surprise you when you see all the things written down that you are doing. The next two steps are the hardest part. First, you have to put a priority on every single one of the items on your list. Number them one to however many you have on your list. And remember, everything is not a number one priority. If everything is number one, then NOTHING is number one. Second, decide which items you can drop, and then do it. Be honest with yourself.
After you do this, do not allow other things to start filling up your time again. Set your personal and professional boundaries. Anytime you allow your business and life to get out of balance, you will overload. If you start to see the signs of overload again, repeat this exercise.
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