Biggest Mistakes of the Chronically Overwhelmed

We have all had times in our lives when we have bitten off more than we can chew.  It’s human nature for many of us in the helping field of healthcare.  We are overly optimistic about how much we can accomplish.  It is our optimism and desire to serve others that gets us into trouble.

In coaching front line leaders in health care, I see many making the same mistakes over and over again, and wondering why they can’t achieve their goals.

Is this you?

1.  You are an early adopter.  You love new ideas and want to be the first to pilot, so you volunteer.

2.  You love to help other people.   If a coworker from another department has a crisis, and they need your help, you drop everything on your to do list to help.

3.  You are easily distracted and welcome interruptions. Sitting down and planning for a better future is boring compared to fixing or problem solving an urgent issue.

4.  You like being the “go to” person who helps when others might take a pass.  It’s all about the team, right?

5.  You believe that “one more thing” won’t significantly impact your workload, so you say yes.

The problem lies in your optimism and spirit of teamwork.  It is both a blessing and a curse.  

1.  The “one more thing”  is probably the tenth extra thing you took on.

2.  As the “go to” person, you are so busy helping others that you are not helping your own department, or staff.

3.  The distractions prevent you from spending time doing your best thinking, to build a better future.

4.  The spirit of teamwork may not be reciprocated.  You help others to “pay it forward”.  Do you ask for help in return?  Do you get help or support when you need it?

5.  Always being the early adopter can put a strain on your staff,  and distract you from your core work.  It can also rob other peers of the opportunity to be a pilot site.

angel_marquee-newFor all this teamwork and action packed activity you will be rewarded, right?  People around you will recognize and appreciate all you do, right?  Your staff will see how hard you are working, right??????

Wrong……….. here’s what your peers and staff see:

1.  You are so busy.

2.  You stay late and bring your work home.

3.  You can be counted on to volunteer for extra work.

4.  Your staff are dealing with work processes that are inefficient because you are too busy to attend to your own house.

5.  You fall behind in meeting deadlines because you added one more thing for someone else.

6.  You are becoming increasingly anxious as you become overwhelmed.

Is this what a leader looks like?

Prioritization Matrix 2A leader spends time working in the upper right hand quadrant of the priority matrix.   A leader has focus and spends their time doing the right things at the right time.   If you are overwhelmed, chances are that you are not saving enough time for the sacred work that gets done in the upper 
right, or quadrant II.

Think about the leaders you admire.  Do they have an aura of peacefulness and balance or frenetic activity?

Which leader are you?  Which leader do you want to be?

What can you do?

1.  Analyze your time for one week.  How much of your time at work or play is spent in each quadrant?

2.  Learn to say no.  Explain to a requester what priorities you currently have an why you cannot take on an additional project at this time.

3.  When you must say yes, be realistic.  What priorities do you currently have and when can you fit in a new project or activity?  How long will it take you to complete the work when you fit it around your work?  Is there an opportunity to share the project or activity with a subordinate as a growth opportunity?  Don’t just plop it on top of your important work and hope for the best.

4.  Don’t invite interruptions, especially when you are doing upper right quadrant work.  Shut your door.  Let calls go to voice mail.

5.  Respect your work and your time as much as the work and time of others.

It’s time to reclaim your priorities and focus on what is most important to you and those you lead.

Thanks for reading my blog and engaging in the process of thinking about your leadership potential.

Happy thinking, planning, being!