Yesterday, I wrote that we shouldn’t see stress as a status symbol, and that stress can come from a mismatch between the situation we face and our level of skill.
But stress can also come from having far too much to do—which probably sounds familiar if you’re a school administrator.
When there’s more on your plate than you can possibly handle, how can you keep it from stressing you out?
Get Everything Straight
Sometimes we’re stressed not because we have too much to do, but because of clutter.
A pile of disorganized work is far more overwhelming than a neat stack, and the same is true when we’re talking about mental clutter.
What does this mental clutter look like?
- Not being clear on what needs to be done
- Avoiding decisions about priorities
- Not marking deadlines on the calendar
- Not finishing things you could easily finish
and so on.
But after you’ve addressed these issues, you’ll still have too much to deal with. So how do you keep that from stressing you out?
Draw the Line
Once your priorities are clear, you’ll have to make a hard call and draw the line.
Everything above the line gets done. Everything below the line doesn’t.
This one of the hardest decisions to make clearly, because our superhero tendencies make us reluctant to admit that we have limits.
We want to hold out hope that somehow we’ll get to that months-old task, instead of facing reality and admitting it won’t get done.
Efficacy and Efficiency
But if we can muster the courage to admit, to ourselves and others, what we will and won’t be able to accomplish, something remarkable happens:
We can actually fulfill our commitments. We can accomplish what’s above the line.
And this increases our sense of self-efficacy, which in turn increases our productivity.
We’re much more likely to work in the flow state, and to finish what we start, because we believe we can…and because what we’ve committed to is actually doable.
Are you resisting drawing the line? What needs to fall below it so everything else can get done, and so you can leave every day feeling more successful?