This is the story of pretty much every doer. There are times when the work just piles up. You are told the deadline is today. Every assignment has to be completed ASAP. No Respite. Of course you will prioritize the work. Of course you will manage your time and work late. Here are some things to do apart from that.
Get clear definition on the work:
Say you are in a company where salesmen travel to different cities to sell the company products. Your job is to work out the most optimum route that the salesmen need to travel between twenty-six cities (A, B, C, …, Z). As diligent and sincere as you are, you will jump on it right away. Also, it has to be finished by the end of the day. You have started to feel the pressure as there are millions of permutations and combinations to evaluate. This is the time when you should find out whether the salesmen are really going to travel to all the cities tomorrow. You may find out that although the salesmen travel to twenty-six cities, tomorrow they are going to travel to cities ‘B’, ‘R’ and ‘S’. In future, you will have to come up with the most optimum route through twenty-six cities. But not today. Today’s job is restricted to three cities. More often than not, being clear of the exact objectives and purpose of the work can reduce potentially redundant work.
Create awareness about the expanse of the work
Most of the times, the people assigning the job are unaware of the amount of time and effort that is necessary. You ask about tomorrow’s schedule for salesmen and come to know they are travelling through only three cities. Person assigning the work might say, “Now that you are here, do all twenty-six cities today”. Remember, this might be out of ignorance and not because he is a tyrant. You will have to explain how hundreds of iterations get introduced if the number of cities is increased from three to twenty-six. Assure him that you will eventually optimize the route for all the cities, but it is not required for today. A lot of work can be avoided if you can educate people about the actual requirements in the short term. This will also show that you know your job well enough to be not taken for granted.
Ask for help
Do not hesitate to ask for help. Asking for help is a sign of self-awareness. It means that we know our limitations and are fully aware of the time and effort requirements for the job at hand. When under heavy stress, ask your colleagues for help. If you are a genuine person and have ever helped them in their hour of need, they will come on board. Apart from sharing some of your burden, they will bring a fresh perspective to the table. They may have better methods or tools to solve the same problem faster.
Do not blame your Boss or people around you:
Firstly, you are doing the work by choice. You always have an option to walk away. But you chose to do it. This may be out of personal motives like promotions, better performance ratings or just to be a star in the group. It also might be because you want to help someone or the group, succeed. Worst case scenario, you do not want to get fired. Either ways you are in this situation because of you. Secondly, your boss has a boss who, in turn, has one himself. You do not know where this pressure is coming from. Your boss might have got a “Just get it done” order. He might have conveyed your workload and fought for you against his superiors. Look at this work as your opportunity to make him feel that you stand strong behind him. Also, the next time you have to get out of office for personal stuff during work hours, you won’t feel the guilt.
Own-up to your mistakes.
Obviously, making lesser mistakes will save time. But with ten different assignments and millions of things going on in the head, mistakes are more likely to happen. Mistakes are part and parcel of any job. They are bound to happen and they only make us wiser by the day. So, own-up to your mistakes. It is never a good idea to hide them or blame them on anyone else. There may be short-term benefits. But in the end, honesty and self-respect are far more superior to any promotion or raise. Good night’s sleep is the real accomplishment. People remember when you blame something on them. Also, they will start respecting you if you admitted to your mistakes. They will be more comfortable working with you.
When you are extremely busy and when you need the space and time to think, you do not want to know who won the football game last night. Your friend’s camping trip last weekend is only going to take up the precious time in your present. I am a kind of person who cannot tell anyone to stop talking. I would rather change my location than to confront someone. If you cannot avoid distractions, go to a place where you can concentrate. Go to a nearby coffee shop. Sit in a corridor. Find yourself a place that no one will imagine you will be at. Assign a particular time for necessary distractions like reading emails or consulting someone for work.
Compare yourself to the less privileged