Feeling overwhelmed? Arianna Huffington doesn’t want to hear it.
Huffington sees a major problem with our incessant need to broadcast our work overwhelm, as she writes on Thrive Global. “Telegraphing that we’re overworked — I’m slammed! I’m drowning! I’m swamped! I’m underwater! — needs to stop being a badge of honor, a way of saying you take your job seriously,” she says.
Huffington makes clear that she’s not talking about toxic workplaces or people with bosses who have unreasonable expectations. Instead, she’s talking about that obnoxious colleague — maybe it’s even you — who seems to revel in complaining about their never-ending stream of work.
Here’s why it’s a problem: Huffington believes your compulsion to complain about drowning in work signals a few other issues that stand in the way of your success. It means you’re not managing your workload properly or being realistic about what can truly be accomplished in a day.
Huffington is also quick to acknowledge that feeling overwhelmed is somewhat of a good problem to have. It’s a sign that you’re doing meaningful, challenging work. If you could breeze through every workday with nary a hiccup, that’s a problem of a different sort.
But if you’re suffering from overwhelm syndrome, she says your job doesn’t necessarily need to change. You may, however, need to change how you approach your work. Here are her tips for getting a handle on your workload so overwhelm is no longer an issue.
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Figure out how to prioritize
If you’re in any position of power or success, you have more decisions to make than you can reasonably handle right this very minute. Learn to flex those prioritization muscles. Take an Eisenhower-eqsue stance and remember: “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.”
Huffington urges you to learn how to prioritize decisions about what must be done now and what can wait. You should also seek out ways to cut down on unnecessary decision making — just like Huffington does when she decides what to wear.
Relax and replenish
The more jam-packed your schedule becomes with meetings and the aforementioned urgent decisions, the more important it becomes to care for your body and mind. This is why many of the world’s top executives are early risers and make a point to exercise first thing in the morning. For example, Instagram’s CEO daily morning routine includes a 60-minute workout.
Huffington has built somewhat of an empire by evangelizing the importance of a full night’s sleep. Her nightly wind-down routine includes disconnecting from screens, taking a bath, putting on legit PJs and reading a real paper book — on a topic that must be unrelated to work, such as fiction or poetry.
Get comfortable with not finishing things
Ambitious, creative and challenging work begets never-ending to-do lists. The sooner you realize this — and accept it — the less overwhelmed you’ll begin feel.
Huffington says you need to get comfortable with incompletions. “There is no interesting job in which you can actually go to bed that night having done absolutely everything you could have done,” she explains. That doesn’t mean you should never get to those things. You just might not get to them today. Put a system in place where you can keep track of what’s on your to-do list and continue to prioritize what’s important. Write it down or use an app.