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A Word to the Overwhelmed Executive, from Someone Who’s Been There

As a business executive, you are likely running at top speed while juggling dozens of responsibilities. You may feel like you have to keep up this pace, or the whole organization will crumble around you.  With all the pressures of running and maintaining a successful business, is it even possible to look at your business objectives and not be overwhelmed?

I have been a business executive for over 40 years.  I’m now in a season of life where I find great joy in helping younger business leaders navigate the often-stormy waters of leading an organization.  Even when things are going great, there are a lot of decisions to make to ensure the success continues.

You Are Not Alone in Your Overwhelmed State

First of all, it’s quite natural to feel overwhelmed as a business leader. You’re not the only one who has had the thought, “I can barely get through today, how will I get my organization through the next 5 years?”  This is very typical, and I have found myself thinking the same thoughts over the years.

Dwelling on the myriad of details that have to be done and pulled together will certainly make your head spin.  It can send you into a bleak world of “what ifs.”  This is no way to live, and I want to help you lighten this overwhelming burden.

stressed and overwhelmed executive

When demands are pressing in on you, be wise with with how you spend your time. Some activities are more impactful than others.

My advice for the overwhelmed executive is this:

Long-term success starts with daily decisions.  Decide what is most important for today.

Simply put, you need to accept the fact that time is limited, so it’s crucial to optimize your time by doing what is most important.  Michael Hyatt refers to this philosophy as the power of incremental change.  He provides some helpful  examples on his blog that are worth checking out.

I have put together 6 tips to help you manage your tasks without being completely overwhelmed. I hope my learnings bring relief and encouragement.

6 Tips to Gain Long-Term Success Through Daily Activities

  1. Get clarity regarding your dreams, goals and ambitions. Once you have a clearly defined goal, you are able to build the proper road to get there. This is the first step in ensuring you are doing the right things to achieve your goals.
  2. Focus on what will make the biggest difference. Determine what you can do today that will have the greatest impact on having a successful tomorrow. If you only have time to really tackle 2 things today, pick the 2 things that will set you up for success for the days ahead.  This requires you to be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a day.
  3. Discern between busyness and productivity. You can stay busy – really, really, busy – but not be very productive. If you evaluate your day, you’ll likely realize that some of your busyness is not really producing much of anything.  Take a close look at what is eating up your day, and be sure it is a worthwhile activity. Decide what will make you the most productive today.
  4. Recognize that priorities change every day. What was important yesterday may be completely different from what has become important today. Don’t force yourself into activities that are not truly a priority for today.
  5. Break down your annual goals into more manageable bits. Aiming for a big goal is a good practice, but it can be overwhelming if you look at it as a whole. Figure out what you need to do on a quarterly, monthly, or weekly basis to help you achieve that goal.  Plan these smaller activities into your schedule, and little by little you will start to see these building blocks shape the dream you had set out to achieve.
  6. Get into the right mindset about small action items. Think of it as a conveyor belt – each time you put something on the conveyor belt, it moves you closer to the end result. Do something productive today, even if it’s small, to keep the ‘production line’ moving. As you place meaningful activity on your daily conveyor belt, meaningful change will come about.

Keep the End in Mind, but Focus on Today

I’m a big fan of Stephen Covey, and one of his tenants of good leadership is “Keep the end in mind.”  You need to have a clear picture of where you want to be.  At the same time, you need to understand that you get to piece together that picture one day at a time.   Don’t jump ahead, but rather, tackle what is before you today.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the responsibilities that come with being a business owner.  I’ve come to realize the wisdom of focusing on daily, productive activities.  Big goals are attainable when you attack them daily.  Appreciate and learn from the past, focus on the present, plan for the future. If you’d like to continue this discussion, please give me a call: 888-366-3760.