Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Overextended into Overwhelm?

For some reason this time of year is overwhelm time. Clients and colleagues alike are overextended, scrambling, juggling and trying to keep their heads above water. They're not honoring commitments or deadlines which is impacting other's trust in them. Their solution of "If I finish these two things I'll be ahead of the game" gets tossed out the window because they don't realize (when they make that declaration) that ten other things have hit their desks in the interim. For those in positions of leadership, they're also dealing with staffers who are overwhelmed, behind schedule, missing deadlines and therefore further impacting my clients and their deliverables.

You don't have to be running a huge organization for this to happen. It's occurring at all levels. So what do you do to fix it?  Nothing. You start from scratch. You don't fix. You create, design and build.

Trying to shuffle or re-prioritize won't help you deal with the overwhelm or get on top of all the stuff that you're bombarded with. Starting from scratch will enable you to build something relevant for now and into the future, prune out what's no longer relevant and simplify.

Start with the question (you've heard this before so it might be time to start doing it) "What do I have to let go of?" and then follow up with "Who do I need to work with? What tools do I have to start incorporating? What is no longer relevant in the scheme of things and can be dropped?" and very important in my book, "Will what I'm doing right now help me build something successful?" If you don't have those answers, then definitely stop, take stock of where you're going and why and then start moving towards it.

The other great thing about starting from scratch is you have a clearer view of what direction to take. You don't have 100 things weighing you down which takes your eye off the ball.

You choose. What, when where and with whom.


David said...

In the time it takes to answer those questions, I can accomplish the items on my to-do list. Hope all is well. When is the book out?

David B.

Donna Karlin said...

Uh huh....right....I can almost see the mounds of paper on your desk! The book is coming out next month. Stay tuned!

Chris said...

This is a very laid back way of saying stop and think before acting. So many people rush into doing things without thinking and that gets them into trouble.

As an executive coach , I tell people all the time they need to stop and make a plan before proceeding. It seems that is exactly what you are saying.

Kudos to you.

Donna Karlin said...

Thanks, Chris. Creating space to make responsive choices is one of the best things we can do with our clients. When I'm lecturing I tell the group "Just as you find yourself about to dive in to react to a situation that just unfolded, take a step back, figure out the most important question that needs to be answered and why and THEN dive in". When we ask our clients reflective questions, they automatically create mental space.