Getting out of overwhelm

Have you ever started the day with a list of ‘stuff’ to do and lots of good intentions? It’s a regular feature of my week.

How often do you actually get everything on the list complete by the end of the day? In my case, it’s rare. But that’s because it works for me to have a rather longer than realistic list. And I prioritise my list.

Not everyone works at their best with too much to do, however. If you find yourself overwhelmed with the amount of work on your list, here’s something for you to experiment with:

Empty your head of everything you’ve got to do, want to do, need to do, dream of doing. Write it all down.

Next, pull out of the list anything that has a deadline in the next week and put that on a new list. Pick the three most important items on that second list and do them today. When you’re done, stop. Make coffee, go for a walk, read the news or whatever else appeals to you.

Notice how you feel.

Make a plan for tomorrow, and do the same again.

Three things might not seem like very much. If you take it in context with all the ‘noise’ of emails, telephone calls and other interruptions, it can be quite an achievement to complete three tasks. Of course, it depends on the average size of the tasks you have on your list and the amount of email you get.

So, do three things per day for a week and then try four. If that’s still too easy, move up to five. If you’re getting overloaded, drop it down again.

What’s the point? By doing this you’ll get a realistic sense of how much work you can accomplish in a day. How useful would that be?

Whether the weather be fine

It’s often been said that British people are obsessed with the weather. It’s true that we do talk about the weather a lot, and it’s usually the easiest way to make ‘small talk’ with a British resident.

Regardless of whether the weather is fine, warm, hot, cold, wet, grey, icy or ‘changeable’ there will always be people who are less than pleased with the conditions.

And in some cases, they complain about it – at length.

Are you one of them?

Do you use the weather as an excuse to put off certain tasks or activities? I do! I often decide not to take my morning walk on the grounds that it’s raining, cold or windy.

And sometimes I put off my usual activities because the sun’s shining and I want to take advantage of it.

What would it be like if we could choose our own weather and take it with us wherever we go? What would you choose? Hot and sunny, bright and breezy or cool and damp? Snowing, raining?

When I stop to think about it, I wouldn’t really want hot, sunny weather every day.  I’m British after all, and the element of surprise in the weather is what I’m used to.

Here’s the thing…

When we can’t predict exactly what’s going to happen, we appreciate it more when we get what we want. In Psychology that‘s known as the principle of Random Reward. The unpredictability makes the result more motivating.

So, today, notice where else in your life, your experiences are unpredictable. Notice how much more satisfying it is when you get what you want without being certain it would happen.

It’s just a small step from there to realise that ‘achievable’ goals are dull compared to the goals that stretch you and challenge you and that don’t carry certainty of success.  Isn’t it?

[Video] EQ or IQ?

Somewhere in the middle of the 1990s when Daniel Goleman first published his book 'Emotional Intelligence' a lot of people began to realise that there is a lot more to intelligence than simple IQ. Traditional measures of IQ are mostly concerned with things like verbal and numerical reasoning, some spatial orientation and so on, but they are mostly very traditional ways of measuring how clever somebody is. There have been lots and lots of books written about intelligence in its various forms, including 'Emotional Intelligence', but I think one of the big consequences of Daniel Goleman's book was that lots of people began to realise that in fact it's not your IQ that determines how successful you'll be in life…


What makes the perfect job?

It’s hard to say on which side lies the greatest leap of faith – with the person who takes on a new role – or with the employer who offers the position.

On both sides there is a risk. For the employee, if it turns out that the role doesn’t suit their talents and interests, there is the risk of sudden unemployment or the task of more job-hunting. For the employer, if they offer the role to someone who turns out not to be a good fit, there is the prospect of another recruitment campaign and a period of time when the job is not being carried out.

Small wonder, then, that there are lots of people turning up for work every day to do a job that doesn’t really use their talents or bring them great job satisfaction. It’s hard for either side to admit to it, if a person has been appointed to the ‘wrong’ job.

But what makes the ‘right’ job?

Here are some of my thoughts, see if they fit with yours…

  1. In the right job you get to use your greatest talents.  You do the things that you are best at and can contribute the most with. You get job satisfaction.
  2. In the right job, you feel a sense of belonging to the company and pride in the particular company that you represent. You derive some meaning from being part of it.
  3. Your values align comfortably with the corporate values, so that you are able to work in ways that seem ‘right’ to you.
  4. In the perfect job, as well as all of the above, there is scope for you to grow and develop at the right pace for you, so that the role stays interesting and your experience never becomes outdated or stale.
  5. In the perfect job, you work alongside people who complement your skills and whose skills you complement. Nobody is perfect, but collectively you can do a perfect job.

Do you agree?

And do you choose the role or the employee with any of this in mind? Or is it all about past experience and technical knowledge? Is it all about salary and benefits? 

What would it be like in your organisation if everyone had a role that brought out the best they can contribute and every task was carried out by someone who enjoyed doing it? Wouldn’t that be an interesting place to work!