Aurelia Flores: Don’t Overfill Your Plate!

This week, many of us celebrate Thanksgiving, and with that comes (usually) an overabundance of food!  And what good food, too.  I don’t know about you, but I certainly have my favorites – 4 cheese mac n’ cheese, sweet potatoes and stuffing.  Mmmm….

But often at this meal, we overindulge and then find ourselves in a food coma afterward – or maybe that’s just me (and all those carbs!).

So in order to avoid the discomfort afterwards, we have several options:  1) pace yourself, 2) don’t take too much on, and 3) don’t overfill your plate.

This same analogy applies to work, too.  When we overfill our plate – usually because of overexuberance, or perhaps because there’s just a boatload of work to do -- there's a downside.

Whether we’re excited about the myriad of projects – or simply feel we have to take them on since no one else is around to do so – when we try to do too much at once, we don’t do as well as when focusing on one thing at a time (or at least a smaller subset of items).

I totally understand having lots to do, but it’s important that – when possible – we pace ourselves and push back a bit.  But if we can’t lighten our load, we can at least watch out for the possible consequences.

Feeling of Overwhelm

Although this rarely happens with food, with work when we feel like we have too much on our plate, we can freeze and not know where to start, and therefore fail to accomplish much at all.

Similar to when you have a big plate, when our workload is overfull, we can start with ‘small bites’ and slowly tackle the mound of food (um, I mean work!).

Make sure to focus on one small thing at a time until it’s done, or else you’ll fall victim to…

Lack of Completion

When we have a lot, we can find ourselves doing just a little bit of each thing, and then no one project gets complete.

So, when we have a lot of work, we can DO a lot of work, but if we spread it out too much, it feels like we didn’t accomplish anything.

So make sure you finish, but take your time and double check, otherwise you might have…

Sloppy Work

Sometimes when we have a lot to do, we rush through and then details get missed, or the end product is simply (much) less than our best.

Obviously, this reflects poorly on us.

When possible, avoid this dilemma by sharing the workload with teammates, delegating to others, or simply asking your supervisor if it’s possible to have a longer timeline, or if someone else can take it on.

When this situation of too many projects and too much work is simply unavoidable, just make sure you take care and don’t allow the pitfalls above to take over.

Remember:  no one can keep up a frantic pace forever.  While you might feel you HAVE to take on a ton simply to keep your job, you want to find ways and places to give yourself a breather.

And just like at Thanksgiving, having an overfull plate from time to time isn’t bad – it’s when it becomes a daily practice that it is no fun.  Happy Eating!

What do you do when you have TOO much work to do?  How do you push back?  Or how do you handle it?