O is for… Overload

Here’s a simple tip. Never say you are too busy for anything. Because its not true. The real answer is that what you are being asked to do doesn’t rank higher in priority than the things you are currently engaged in.

You will hear many people complaining of overload, being too busy, “rushed off my feet“. Lame. Because overload doesn’t exist. Here’s another simple tip. You can only do one thing at a time. So, write down everything you have to do in the best priority order you can do and start at the top. One at a time.

People who say they are too busy generally have three main failings:

  1. They fail to say no.
  2. They fail to delegate.
  3. They fail to adjust priority and expectations when something else goes to the top of the list.

Everyone will always tell you that what they need you to do should be your number 1 priority. Sometimes they will use the word urgent. Often it will be in bold. But there really is no point in taking on 2 or 3 such simultaneous tasks and failing to deliver them all. There is always some give in any ridiculous demand. Try phrases like “OK, I can do X today, but I’ll have to drop Y & Z, can you check with Mr. Y and Mr. Z that they will be OK with that?

You see, faced against other people’s real priority items, some demands can look a little daft, so let them find that out in discussion with their colleagues. Means you don’t have to tell them, which saves you time.

This is particularly important if its your boss who is asking. You can always deflect this by saying “OK I’ll complete that report you never read by the end of the day, but can you let the client/business/whoever know that I won’t be able to do [task] for them?”

There is never, ever anything to be gained by taking the weight of the world on your shoulders for delivery by 5pm or else. But similarly, you can’t say you are too busy. Because, frankly, that’s a crap answer.

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