One of the most prevalent challenges that’s come up this year from my 1-1 coaching clients relates to time management, and the stress and overwhelm associated with a lack of attention to it.

Through asking lots of questions to help them navigate through this, some common themes bubbled up. I combined these with some research on the good old interweb and found that it typically relates to not saying no enough.

To stop taking on more that you have capacity for, and enable you to manage your time better, you need to put your big girl pants on. I’ve come up with a simple model to help. Feel free to use it if you find yourself in a pickle about this.

Step 1 – Remember

Everything you have in your current backlog and workload.

  • How much stuff has already been started (work in progress)?
  • What projects are coming to an end?
  • Do any colleagues have planned leave coming up – you may need to take on more for a short period?
  • Do you have any planned leave?
  • What personal commitments do you currently have?
  • Where are you in the release cycle at work (for IT folk)?

The cost of context switching

Gerry Weinberg’s chart of productivity loss

It’s up to you to decide what happens next.

You have the power πŸ¦ΈπŸΏβ€β™€οΈ. We sometimes forget who’s really in charge of our destiny – us.

Step 2 – Qualify

Before jumping to ‘Yes’, or even to ‘No’, slow down and get more info. Taking a brief pause to understand what is actually being asked and why can only help inform your decision.

  • What are they asking for?
  • When does it actually need to be done?
  • What’s the impact / outcome / the ‘Why?’

Step 3 – Decide

OK – so you’ve considered what you already have going on / coming up soon, and taken time to fully understand the ask it’s crunch time. But there are nuances to how you could respond.

  • Not all but some – Maybe you have some capacity that allows you take on a small element of the request?
  • Not now but later – Will you have more capacity in a couple of weeks from now? In a month?
  • No, but – you know someone else who is better placed to help, or who you know has capacity to help
  • Not unless – the workload you already have can be re-organised. A good question here is “Is there anything you’d like me to stop doing in order to start this?

Bonus option

  • Pre-emptive no – Where you are open and let everyone know well in advance that you’re fully loaded and have no capacity or option to take on anything more (great before meetings where you often end up with actions)

If this topic is of particular interest to you or your organisation then give me a shout for a chat, or to find out more about my 1 hour workshop on this topic πŸ˜ƒ.

In the mean time here’s a handy infographic to download it and keep. Enjoy!

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