How to Deal with Overwhelming Overload

There are only 24 hours in a day ... or are there? Get-It-Done Guy Stever Robbins gives you the tools to get the most productivity out of every day.
Stever Robbins
Episode #535
overloaded guy at work

Plan Out Your Week. All of It.

Grab your calendar and schedule in a roadmap of your typical week. Create appointment blocks for how you use time, 24/7. Include all the ways you use time, at work and at home.

First, enter recurring scheduled appointments. Your Monday morning staff meeting? Into the calendar. Your weekly manicure where the manicurist paints portraits of your favorite politicians on your nails? (We all do that, no need to feel self conscious.) Forty-five minutes, every Tuesday. 

Don’t stress the start times; just get the durations. If you have a weekly 45-minute joust, put the 45-minute block at some approximate place on your calendar.

Next, enter your regular life activities: housework, meals, sleep, gym time, socializing, cleaning, laundry, shopping, reading, video games, sports practice, dedicated shmoopie time, family activities, and so on.

Grab your calendar and schedule in a roadmap of your typical week. Create appointment blocks for how you use time, 24/7.

Make sure to add your social, leisure, and recharge times (they’re different). Social time is with friends. Leisure time is fun. Recharge time is nurturing. For me, these are three separate categories. For you, it may be different.

Lastly, add slack time you can use to catch up when things fall behind. Many people use the weekend. When work is involved, scattering slack throughout the week is best.

If you need help knowing where your time goes, try tracking your time for a week. You can find tracking sheets and my episodes on time tracking at http://getitdoneguy.com/timetracking.

Now you’re ready for insights and changes.

Handle Fundamental Overload

If everything won’t fit on your calendar, congratulations! You’ve learned why you’re overloaded! And even though you’re awesome, even you can’t fit 25 hours’ worth of stuff into 24. You need to trim. 

You can reduce existing time blocks: Only get two fingernails painted each week. BOOM! Forty-five minutes becomes 10. 

Or you can eliminate entire activities. For example, housework. The great sage Quentin Crisp pointed out, “There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.” Think of all the time you’ll save!

Use This Calendar for a Week

Now that everything’s blocked out, live it for a week to make sure it’s accurate. Move blocks around and change their size, as needed. If today’s lunch runs over, you need to delete an hour of slack time from somewhere else. 

If the General of your Zombie army (and you know you have one) rushes in with an emergency, you need to swap the calendar block for what you’re doing now with your Zombie status update meeting. You can be flexible and still get everything done. 

At the end of the week, you’ll have a much better idea of how you actually use your time. You will have made tradeoffs as unexpected things arise. And you’ll have made the choices deliberately.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT. 

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