When we feel overwhelmed and falling behind...

Ever have so much to do that you just can't get it all done?

I had an epiphany about it this week.  I belong to a group of business women who are marketers in my industry.  We meet for lunch once a month.  Shannah-of-the-Hayley-Daily  brought up the topic and it hit me.

It isn't about what we have to do and whether or not we get it all done. It's about how we feel about what we have to do and whether or not we get it all done.

I think this hits us at two levels. The first is how much control we have over choosing what we do.  If we feel that everybody else owns our schedule and we have no say, then that sucks.

The second level is when we are working way too many hours and yet still can't finish the task list. When we find there simply isn't enough time or energy to complete all of the things for which we have responsibility.

In the first case, I think this happens the most to us when we are younger, and at some point we "grow a pair" and decide to take responsibility for ourselves instead of allowing others expectations to determine how we spend our time. We take control of our choices.

The second level--the task list level--is so much more about how we judge ourselves—when we beat ourselves up because we "can't keep up." Our judgment of ourselves as bad if we can't deliver is insidious.  There are limits and we can't exceed them endlessly and expect to stay healthy.  Of course there are structural tweaks we can make to increase our own productivity, but those changes aren't exponential. The only way to manage the overwhelming task list is to prioritize and communicate openly about what the priorities are, setting expectations about what is going to be strategically neglected.

None of us are super-heroes.  (Though I must say being the Flash sometimes seems appealing.) Humanity with all of its struggle and limits is part of its beauty.

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Maira Gall