Up for a new challenge? Or just too busy. Here are some suggestions

Hi there,

Wanted to give you an update on the book first, because we hit a milestone. I got the opening pages back from the translators! Erica Moore and Elizabeth Manton are now fine-tuning the first chapter, but I can already tell: They’re doing a fantastic job of not just translating the words, but also making sure it feels right.

Not ready to share anything yet, but with the first English pages in hand it’s getting real! And as soon as I have more updates to share, I’ll let you know here.

Today: some ideas for when you have too much on your plate, or when you could use a good challenge. Or both.

Looking for a new challenge?

It’s a misconception that new challenges only make sense when you’ve finished all your work for the week by Tuesday afternoon. Adding something new to your to-do list can help you get your regular work done faster and easier. Here are some suggestions:

  • Take on more responsibility. Pick something just outside your comfort zone. Is there something you’ve tried before that didn’t go so well? Or something that gives you sweaty palms or a flushed face beforehand? Both are good indicators.

  • Ask your boss what you can take off their hands. Not only will this give you a new challenge, but “Is there a project of yours I could take off your hands?” is perhaps the most welcome question a manager ever gets.

  • Solve that pesky problem that frustrates everyone, but which no one’s done a thing about. These come in two varieties. There’s the thankless task: What about those 28 file folders full of paper archives we need to scan? And then there’s the thorny issue: We’d love to send all our in-person visitors a thank-you email, but how? Both kinds of tasks can prove interesting. A thankless task breaks up your routine and helps you work on discipline and perseverance. A thorny issue is a chance to apply your strategic thinking skills. Scout out possible solutions with people in your network. They’re bound to come up with points you’ve never considered. (It’s also a great excuse to get in touch with fantastic former coworkers.) Collect some options, then practice thinking up more solutions – even if at first they seem silly or extreme.

Or looking for a little relief?

We’re all super busy. That’s nothing new. But actually doing something about that heavy workload can be hard. Here are some concrete tips you can try today:

  • Share the feeling. I can’t say enough how important it is to share that you’re feeling overloaded. Don’t presume your supervisor or boss has any idea. Supplement your words with data, which brings us to tip #2:

  • Keep track of where the stress comes from. Are you having trouble getting your work done because of loads of meetings that run long? Or a noisy office? Urgent emails? Last-minute requests? Chart it this week. For each culprit, think up a possible remedy and share your insight with your manager. For instance: “This week, marketing asked me to help out 15 times, and that’s one of the biggest stressors for me. It also makes it hard to get my other work done. But I have an idea: How about I sit down with marketing every Tuesday afternoon, so I can deal with all their requests in one go. Anything else that comes up will just have to wait until the following Tuesday.”

  • Make a list of your responsibilities and discuss getting rid of one or more of them. Even delegating one project to someone else often brings a great deal of relief.

  • Stick to your working hours. Our work can seem never-ending. But putting in more hours doesn’t do the trick when you’ve got too much on your plate. Let your team know that you’ve been putting in long hours lately and will be sticking to strict stopping times this week. Ensure that you’ll only be contacted in the evenings this week if there’s an emergency. You’ll notice that limiting your hours makes it easier to focus on what’s important during the workday. And that’s precisely what’s needed.

Making smart adjustments to your workload or taking on new challenges can make your work much more enjoyable. Good luck and have a great week!