tips for dealing with workplace overload

tips for managers dealing with workplace overload

This is a perennial problem and is particularly acute for those moving up into management grades for the first time. Problems can occur when learning the new job while still being engaged with the old job. Similarly, the type of attention required to manage effectively is very different to the level of focus required to execute detailed design. Trying to do both in quick succession will only lead to doing both badly.

  1. Work from home one day a week. Arrange it so that there are no interruptions. But you have to actually work, which means you have to be motivated to work. Are you motivated?
  2. Identify the absolutely critical things that have to happen each day in order to keep things moving. Address that list.
  3. Depending on whether you find mornings easy or hard, shift your working day two hours forwards or backwards. Forwards is better as you are likely to have the office to yourself and even if you don’t believe it, you will be fresher. You can then focus on essential tasks for two hours before the phone starts ringing and the queue of people with questions starts to build up.
  4. Last task finished – first task started. Everything you produce after working for ten hours straight will be garbage.
  5. Recognise when you have stopped intelligently solving a problem and are just trying all parameter combinations in order to get something to work. Go home at this point. You are unproductive.
  6. Avoid the internet. Massive time wasting potential. News sites, hobby sites, shopping sites, personal email…the list goes on…
  7. Refuse to take calls. Shut the door.
  8. Decide which meetings you attend. Most are a colossal waste of time. Telephone conferences are much more efficient.
  9. You are doing things you do not have to do. Stop doing them. A classic example – completing your timesheet to 37.5 hours/week. Actually, most senior managers only need to record sufficient billable hours.
  10. Turn off email. Address critical items only from 12-1pm and from 4-5pm. That’s it. They will survive without you.
  11. Judge when to tell  staff to make their own sensible decisions and be responsible for the consequences. Judge when not to.
  12. Delegating to people who can’t complete the task, but who can start it themselves. Some progress is better than no progress.
  13. Tell people to go away if their needs are not urgent, or they are being lazy. Be less patient but don’t be unpleasant. There’s a difference.
  14. Make other people do their jobs and stop stepping in to fix their stuff for them.
  15. Control your urge to micromanage. There is such a thing as “good enough”. There really is. Explore the envelope of acceptability.
  16. Step back. Look at the big picture. Are you doing the right things? Does anybody want it?