Moving fast can be really exhilarating. It feels good to sprint to meet a tight deadline or get a project done with half the resources. It feels really good to manage all the incoming streams and keep things moving, despite the odds. At least it does at first… If you keep your foot on the gas for too long, the excitement starts to wear off, and you run the risk of hitting a major wall. Here are some articles about how we find ourselves overloaded, what the consequences are, and some ways to manage your way out of it.
Here’s a look at all the ways your overworking, stressed-out lifestyle isn’t doing you any favors. Even before you get to the state of total burnout, you should be asking yourself if the heroic effort your putting in on this project is worth it.
One of the easiest ways to get burned out is to constantly put other people’s needs in front of your own. A desire to be helpful isn’t a bad thing, by any means, but when you’re putting everything else on hold so you can quickly return emails, or respond to other people’s issues, you’re setting yourself up for failure with your own tasks. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to draw a line in the sand and set some boundaries.
Haste makes waste. It’s more than just folksy wisdom, it’s actually backed up by science. This study by researchers at Vanderbilt University found that brains switch into a special mode when pushed to make rapid decisions. There are actually some useful situations for this, such as snap judgements in the midst of a crisis, where the cost of not making a decision is likely greater than making a mistake. But when you’re overloaded, you can get into that state more easily, and open yourself up to a lot of unnecessary mistakes.
How do you deal with the fact that there aren’t enough hours in the day? Have you ever thought that you could get this project done if you could just clone yourself? This forward-looking report by several public policy groups in Great Britain examines the ethics around emerging technologies such as cognitive enhancement drugs and digital implants and assistive devices. In many cases, these are advancing rapidly, and it’s a good thing that people are starting the discussion early.
Here’s one student’s thoughts on how to get things done and keep his stress levels low by hacking the observation that “work generally takes about as long as the time you set aside for it.” Improving focus is the key to getting more done in less time, and tricks like setting time boundaries and turning off the clocks around you can help you stay on target.
When you’re an entrepreneur (or simply have an entrepreneurial spirit), the line between day-dreaming and “strategizing” can get pretty blurry. When you’re overwhelmed with your current activities, it’s really easy to fall into the trap of “planning for that next big thing” as an escape. It can be a useful exercise, but it’s bad when it comes at the expense of your current obligations. Here are some thoughts on how to find balance.
Information overload goes hand in hand with burnout, and being able to manage all your incoming data streams is crucial if you want to prevent a downward spiral of unproductivity. Consummate hyper-sharer Robert Scoble somewhat ironically rants about the noise level in social media, and what could be done about it.
Ah, the curse of being the most productive person in the office. Let’s say you have taken steps to improve your efficiency and get more done in less time. Congratulations! Now that you’ve proven you can get things done without losing your sanity, here is a bunch more work to do! Unfortunately this is an all-too-common scenario. Here’s some ideas from Lifehacker on how to avoid, or at least manage, these types of situations.
Have a productive week, but try not to over-do it, ok?