I’m not very good at saying no especially when the opportunity is appealing. I would imagine most people would fall into this category, yet, I seem to take it to the extreme. My colleague, Jake, even made me a post-it “NO” to put on my computer during an offsite so that I wouldn’t be tempted to respond with “I’ll do that”. I laughed when he gave it to me. However, I then actually looked at it about 5 times before then end of the offsite to remind myself that I’m at capacity.
Here’s my problem: I rarely drop a ball. That sounds great but really this only propels me to think I can do more. I’m extremely organized. For example, I have conference session materials done months in advance. So I just keep saying yes and then suddenly, my anxiety sky rockets because I don’t want to drop a ball. I do whatever I need to handle to ensure things are ready to go. This usually means that I don’t take enough down time mentally, which impacts my quality and ability to create.
For instance, on my plate consistently right now: Organize Agile2017, Organize Leadership Summit – Vegas, Techwell conference tutorials (2 of them), Scrum Gathering – San Diego conference session, submissions to Mile High and other conferences, client coaching/training, public training for coaching course (marketing), further out public courses (CSM and Training from the BACK of the room) marketing, blog posts, course updates, create a new course, plus all that wonderful admin work (expenses, emails, etc). In some ways, I look at this list and think…that’s not that much but is the multi-tasking context switch of these items that can catch up to me. Unlike as a practitioner, my days, my hours, can be quite dramatic in terms of focus swings. I love it and hate it all at the same time. I’m never bored and always feel like I’m delivering value but I can also feel very overwhelmed too.
So I’m trying little things to help:
- Leverage Trello and Use Blocks of Time: I now put tasks in with a target date for working on them. Not just when they are due but when am I going to schedule dedicated time to focus on the task. For instance, today I have a few hours set aside to write blog posts. To concentrate in on getting a few posts in the queue, which will lower my stress of not having some ready in time.
- Pair with others: I’m more cautious to agree when I am not sure I have time to work with someone else. This seems to really hold me to my work in progress limits – as I never want to be the cause of someone else missing a goal.
- Permission to pause: Seems silly but sometimes I just mentally need to tell myself “things will be fine, take a break”. That break often helps me produce results even quicker than if I had kept trying to force myself.
- Really review calendar: When that conference speaking request comes in, I often would just look at those specific dates for availability. Now I’m reviewing what is before and after. How many weeks would I travel? When would I have time to create, etc?
- Continue to ask for help: I have an amazing Agile for All team. I have an amazing Agile2017 program team. They will help but it’s on me to ask.
How do you help to limit your work in progress to something reasonable?