Time Management May Be the Problem — Not the Solution…

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, conventional time management strategies are unlikely to help. In fact, constantly trying to improve your efficiency can make things worse. As you become more efficient, you make room for even more tasks and feel even more pressure. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, you are better served by attacking the root cause: the sheer volume of tasks. This means being honest with yourself — and others — about what you can actually commit to.

For tasks that are assigned to you, think in terms of priorities not time. For example, when your boss asks you to take on a new project, responding with “I don’t have time for that” may feel too abrupt. Instead, consider asking: “Where would you like me to prioritize this against x, y, and z?” This accomplishes two things. First, it communicates that your time is limited and you can only commit to completing a certain number of tasks at a time. Second, it places the onus on them to tell you which task is more important, so that you don’t have to worry about failing to meet a critical commitment.

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