What do we do when there is too much to do? How can we get to working on the big, important things when there are so many fires to fight?
At first, working harder, getting organized, and using more efficient processes helps. But soon the complexity of work outstrips our ability to just press harder. Overextended and tired, we soon realize that no amount of activity offers us a way out.
The way out, of course, has nothing to do with process, action, or organization. We simply change our minds.
The mindset that got us here includes the belief that we can and should get it all done. We fear what will happen if we don’t. This mindset also includes the affirmation that we are inundated by the waves of tasks and chaos; thinking we are overextended means we are. This mindset erodes our productivity and satisfaction.
Choosing to see ourselves as riding the waves of chaos changes everything. The mindset we need understands that there will always be too much to do. Now we can give up trying to do it all. This is a huge relief. No longer burdened by that guilt/pressure, we are free and can trust ourselves to choose the best things to work on. Paradoxically, we become so much more productive. We also get more mental capacity to find better solutions (e.g. delegating, renegotiating, reprioritizing) to the tasks at hand.
Better still: this mindset is contagious. Having chosen to ride the waves, we will naturally influence the army of pushing, overextended co-workers to ride atop these waves with us.
In your corner,
PS: This is one of those changes in the way we are not in what we do. To others, the change look subtle. And, in impact, it is monumental.