“If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have priorities.”
This mantra is one that Danielle Bechtel, A Cloud Guru brand and marketing specialist, keeps close to the vest.
Having too much work can result in poor performance on every project on a person’s plate. Anxiety, deadlines, and rework are all potential results of improperly prioritizing work or taking on too many tasks.
To manage your workload on the online cloud education platform, Bechtel assumes responsibilities that you can realistically fulfill based on the business impact they will have in the next three months. Then break those priorities down into smaller weekly goals to stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
And when stress increases, Bechtel recommends finding perspective, realigning priorities to make room for more personal time, and let off steam.
What is the first thing you do when your workload increases?
If I take more than three priorities, I won’t do a good job on any of them. So I have to commit to a realistic workload that I can do well. To choose my three priorities, I analyze the commercial impact that I can have in the next three months by completing these three strategic initiatives.
I break those three initiatives down into smaller goals that I can complete each month. I found that if personal growth isn’t prioritized, your career just happens to you. So I choose two work goals and a personal goal. Not all initiatives move at the same rate, so goals for an initiative can be advanced, while initiatives number two and three have happened in recent months.
Then I write down the five things I need to do each week to reach all of those goals. This practice provides me with a system that facilitates the measurement of the relative importance of new projects. Are they more or less important than my strategic objectives? How do they compare to the five things I said I would do this week? It is important to be ready to get rid of even the most beautiful plan to take advantage of a better opportunity. So sometimes I throw everything away and start again. And that’s perfectly fine for me, as long as I move on.
Stress comes from a lack of balance. “
How do you handle your “to-do” in a way that minimizes stress?
Stress comes from a lack of balance. It’s hard to get into a job with the same energy level every day, ready to complete the same amount of to-do. Therefore, it is important that I am looking at the balance of my whole life. Using a hundred percent scale, how much do I have to give now? If I’m 50 percent, what should I lose to give myself more space to be calm and stress-free? If I’m exhausted and allow myself to hit 25 percent or less, then my main goal is to follow routines to regain balance: eat clean, sleep well, and get out in the sun.
Having perspective is also key. If I keep a wider lens in my life, I can usually see that many unfinished tasks really don’t need to be done. People waste a lot of time on short-term fires, fixes, and mind dramas. If I am working towards my main initiatives at work and doing my best to impact the world around me, then I am proud enough to say that I did everything I could at the time.
How do you know when to ask for help and what steps you take to protect your mental health when your workload increases?
I know how to ask for help when I’m procrastinating. Listen to your instincts because they can tell you when you are shuffling. If I’m doing anything other than what I should be doing, that’s when I know I need to ask for help. Many times, I just need to talk to someone. That’s why it’s so important to have someone you trust who can speak frankly and think no less about their abilities. I don’t always recommend that you be a manager.
Being a younger leader, I learned that everything feels like something more important early in a person’s career. Newer professionals simply don’t have enough experience to see how things played out in the past, so their ability to assess the importance of a challenge is already working against them. It is key to have a trusted mentor to ask, “Is this as important as I think it is?” I lost a lot of mental energy thinking that something was a big problem just to realize that I just needed to ride the wave and let the moment pass.