Drowning in Work

Is your to-do list turning into a to-do document? Are your unchecked voicemails and emails amounting to an all-day task? Does it seem like you’re being pulled in a million different directions? Relax. You are not alone. Many of us get overwhelmed from time to time. So, how do you knock that mountain of work down to a manageable size? Here are some tips that always help me cope:

Get organized
Start by prioritizing what tasks need immediate attention. It may seem daunting, but making a task list is key. If you have access to scheduling or project management software—like Podio—you can use that to break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. Once you’ve got all your tasks in a row, you can start tackling them one by one.

Be realistic
You are only human. Be honest with yourself and don’t over promise. Most clients and colleagues can relate to having a lot on their plates, so be upfront with what they can expect from you. If you are already spread thin, minimize your commitments or scale back on the ones you already have. This may mean turning down lunch meetings or opting out of employee committees until you are able to handle the additional responsibility.  

Ask for help
Before you burn out, get some help. If deadlines are quickly approaching and inflexible, ask your colleagues and/or supervisor to help out. This may mean hiring some temporary help or shifting some of your responsibilities to others. Find ways to get the job done without dropping the ball.

Now that you know what to do, get to work and pull yourself out of the trenches. I’ll see you on the other side!

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? I’d love to hear your tips.

 

Guide on the side

Be a Guide on the Side in Corporate America

The way we communicate and the way we conduct business has changed drastically over the course of my career. So it’s no surprise the way young people are learning nowadays has evolved too. To adapt, the role of the educator has largely shifted from lecturer to “guide on the side.” Teachers are no longer the source of information, they are facilitators and curators of information—empowering students to think for themselves. So how can we apply this model to a professional setting? Here are some tips on how to adopt this methodology and reap the results in the corporate world:

Ask, Don’t Tell
A cornerstone of guided instruction is the notion of student-centered learning. With this approach, students are encouraged to contribute ideas and even help plan curriculum. Lessons are initiated with questions, not long, drawn-out lectures.

Similarly, many innovative companies have adopted an employee-centered work environment. Google allows its engineers to construct their own work spaces. Zappos has weaved in team building activities into its company culture. At Apple, your work isn’t only evaluated by your superiors but by your peers as well.

Companies such as these have realized that good ideas don’t necessarily come from the top down. And just like educators have observed in student-centered classrooms, employee-centered workplaces offer better opportunities for internal motivation, goal setting and perseverance.

Change the Game
What works for some, may not work for all. It’s up to the educator or manager to recognize this and change their approach when needed. National educational consultant and author, Rick Wormeli has said, “I might teach the way that’s uncomfortable for me, but that’s fine. My success comes from my students’ success.” Same goes for managers. Their team’s success is a reflection of how well they lead.

Teaching strategies like think-ask-tell and KWL foster collaboration and critical thinking that can be implemented in department meetings and performance reviews. Using the KWL technique as an example, employees would be prompted to state what they know about their current role and what they would like to learn as they progress. Then, when the next performance period rolls around, that supervisor can review that employee’s initial thoughts and ask him or her to reflect on what he or she has learned.

Certainly, applying new managerial strategies are not easy and require effort from all levels of employees. But, fostering a collaborative, engaged team that is passionate about the work they do will only generate positive results.

Do you work for an employee-centered organization? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the effectiveness of this environment.