At a recent barbeque, I couldn’t help but notice that despite the beautiful summer day and time spent with friends, everyone seemed to be talking about how overwhelmed they were trying to make all the pieces of their lives work together with some measure of sense and sanity.
Whether it was friends preparing to send children off to college, others starting a new business, or simply trying to manage to take a vacation and not fall behind at work, they all seemed to be struggling to keep balance in their hectic yet successful lives. The more successful we become, the more people need our time. However, the time we have remains static. What does it take to make it all work and continue to be successful without feeling burned out and overextended?
Finding the balance to make it all work without feeling overwhelmed and overextended doesn’t have to involve time-consuming strategies. Here are four simple tips that can help you manage your life and maintain stress resilience in the face of daily stress.
1. Reacquaint Yourself With The Power Of No
When others ask us for things, we often respond out of habit and impulse rather than intention and purpose. We often feel compelled to say “yes” to others’ demands on our time and meet others’ needs on their schedules, leaving us feeling overextended and disconnected from our short and long-term priorities. We somehow feel that responding with a simple “no” or simply suggesting that we respond later will unsettle the universe. Simply saying “no” or asking to respond later to a request is often met with the reply, “That’s OK, thanks.” Being comfortable responding intentionally and thoughtfully is what creates the fine line between being intentionally and purposefully busy and being overextended.
2. Carve Out Open Space In Your Day
Without even thinking, our calendars and schedules can easily become filled up with back-to-back meeting tasks, and we find ourselves scheduled at least 100% of the day—perhaps even more. We leave ourselves little time for breaks, connecting with others, moments to gather our thoughts, do heavy thinking, or even react to unexpected situations that arise. This intense pressure leads to frustration, energy drain, and burnout. By simply planning our schedules to include open space, we can better manage the pace and speed of our day and build in the time to sustain our energy. Try not to schedule more than 60% of your day with meetings, appointments, and structured tasks. Use the other 40% of the time throughout the day to create open blocks of time where you can connect with others, take a well-needed mental break, pursue a creative endeavor, or even deal with an emerging and unanticipated situation. Open space leaves you in control of your day and not the other way around.
3. Have A Do-Not-Discuss List
We often waste hours, days, and months discussing, rehashing, and revisiting situations and past events while either ignoring or not choosing to focus on implementing the strategies for taking action. Once you’ve gathered the right resources, fully vetted and discussed the root cause of the challenge, and identified and formulated a plan for moving forward, don’t talk about the situation in terms of the past again. Commit to creating a do-not-discuss list for those situations and only talk about new developments or forward movement. Focusing and rehashing the past, or ruminating over what actions one could take, doesn’t benefit anyone in your life—especially you.
4. Definitely Delegate When Needed
Even if you’re not a perfectionist, mastering the art of delegating requires some intentional effort to get it right. Be selective about what you delegate—choose things that are better accomplished by someone else, spending the time and energy on doing it, even if it is something you know you could do. Choose to delegate things that you know you can’t do, are not worth the time to learn, or you’re not interested in learning how to do. Beyond what types of things to delegate, mastering the art of delegation requires choosing well whom to delegate to a trusted resource while giving them clear direction, setting expectations and outcomes, and the full authority to take action to implement and achieve the outcome. Masterful delegation pays dividends in many surprising ways—you often learn that some tasks are done better than if you’d done them yourself.
Building your resilience doesn’t have to be complicated or time-intensive. Simply implementing any one of the tips starting today can improve your resilience in a measurable way. If you have others, please share them with me.