Tens or responsibilities! Hundreds of tasks! Overflowing agendas! Conflicting schedules! When will it all stop?! Eat? Sleep? What are you talking about?! Who has time for that?!
It’s simply incredible just how easily things can stack up on top of each other and, before you know it, your entire life is going out of control. Your attention is required in so many different directions that not even a second brain could deal with the workload.
I’ve had high amounts of work many times before, but nothing quite like the past few weeks. I didn’t even know that I could do so many things whilst on a 4-hour sleep/day regime. (I did it but I do NOT recommend it!)
I guess T.S. Elliot really knew what he was talking about when he said:
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
Today I genuinely had a breakdown. I was so worn out by all of the work I’ve been doing lately that my mind just decided to shut down. I haven’t felt so dumb in my life! Words such as “coincidence” or “perseverance” seemed to be completely nonexistent in my vocabulary.
My hearing also seemed to have just evaporated. People were talking to me like to a walking zombie. The only real difference is that I wasn’t intending on eating their brains. (though that might have helped… Who knows…)
But I seriously deserved it. After several weeks of waking up every day between 3 and 5AM and almost continuously work until 9 or sometimes even 12PM, it eventually just had to backfire. It wasn’t a matter of “IF” but rather of “WHEN.”
I am one of the healthiest guys I know, but that does not give me the right to push my body in such a manner. Our sleep is one of the most important aspects of our health. There is probably nothing that rejuvenates the body more than a good night’s sleep.
If your agenda is genuinely overflowing with important tasks that you just have to finish, then there is not much you can do today. Your commitments are your responsibility. I cannot help you do the things you committed to doing, but I’ll try to help you to NOT get into a similar situation ever again!
For your health’s sake, learn to say “Maybe”!
Many people find it super hard to say “No,” especially when they are asked by either friends or their boss. I’m personally a very direct person and never really had a big problem with saying no, even after I initially said yes.
Of course that didn’t happen often, but sometimes I really didn’t “read the fine print” and ended up with more things on my plate that I intended to.
On the other hand, if you have a hard time saying no, then just learn the habit of saying “Maybe” or “Could I please think about it / sleep on it?”
Don’t say neither no nor yes, just say a version of maybe. Let’s see a few examples of conversations between you (Y) and your typical energy drainer (E):
E: “Could you please help me with this?”
Y: “I would love to! Just please let me check my agenda first to see when could I help you!”
E: “Oh, but it’s sort of urgent…”
Y: “I perfectly understand, but I just have 24 hours a day. So if they’re already filled up, I cannot possibly add something else.”
E: “Ah, don’t worry! I’m sure you have time somewhere in there for this “little” thing!”
Y: “I’m almost sure also! I would just like to check first to make sure.”
E: “Ok… But call me when you find out!”
Y: “Sure thing!”
Then, later in the day or tomorrow you tell the drainer either that you can’t or that you can (recommended) but only after X date and at Y time. If they agree, great! If they don’t, even better! You already said no in a very polite way, so your job here is done!
In my personal opinion, this is the very best strategy to implement if you can’t or simply don’t want to say no directly. Your friends and colleagues will learn to respect your time as much as they respect their own.
Now you might be thinking: “Well yes, that works fine with friends and colleagues, but it won’t work with my boss.” Though it will work if you are within a team of equals (like we are here at Wesrom) where you are just as important as you boss, I agree that in most cases this won’t work. Bot no worries! I have you covered!
Whenever your boss (B) asks you (Y) to add something extra to your already full agenda, you can have a conversation similar to:
B: “John, could you please take care of X today?”
Y: “Before or after Y?”
B: “After Y.”
Y: “Well, then X has to wait until tomorrow, because Y will take me another … hours.”
B: “No, X has to be done today.”
Y: “Ok then. I’ll finish Y tomorrow.”
B: ”You should try to finish both today.”
Y: “Ok, which one is more important than the other?”
B: “They are both equally important.”
Y: ”Though that may be, I cannot do two things at the same time. No one can. You have the power to decide which one you want done first.”
B: “Ok, then do Y first.”
Y: “Perfect, I’ll work on Y and try to finish it as fast as I can, and then move on to X. Is that OK?”
B: “Yes, but make sure you finish both today.”
Y: “I promise to do my best.”
B: “Before Y.”
Y: “Ok! Then I’ll start working on X right away and leave Y for later or tomorrow.”
B: “No, both have to be done today.”
Y: “I understand that both are urgent, but I cannot work at two things at the same time. Etc.”
*Continue with the last 5 lines from path one.
Of course, the conversation will probably not flow exactly like that, but I’m sure you got the idea. Make your boss choose which task is more important and then just focus on doing your best, which is the most you can do, either way.
Learning to stay far from extra commitments will make sure that you (almost) never get in such a situation again. Of course, for all of this to work, you already have to know how to plan and how to stay productive.
I really hope that this will help you to never face a similar situation like I did in the past few weeks.
As always, thank you for your attention and have an amazing day!
Creating a better (and less stressful) tomorrow,