A very simple question that very many people are simple unable to answer properly. They think they’re busy but they don’t see the fact that they may in fact be too busy. Personally I know I’m way too busy right now and the effects are starting to show in my psyche and ability to get things done. If you don’t think that can happen to you, think again. I always thought that I had a good ability to deal with a high volume of work and I still do but thinking this way means that you might take more and more work.
How can you tell you’re too busy?
I guess the important question if you think you might be too busy is not whether you are or you aren’t but how can you tell if you are. Realistically the answer to this question will change from person to person. But what I’ve noticed some indicators are that you might be too busy are: you see your workload and can’t figure out where to start, the small tasks keep getting in the way and you can’t get to the bigger items, your to do list is a mile long and items travel from one day to the next without being completed.
There are probably 101 more ways that you can tell that you’re too busy and I’m sure the majority of them would be right. The item that I’m dealing with isn’t necessarily the fact that I’m too busy but the impact that this is having on my psyche; when my workday is over I have no energy to really do anything and I find that distractions such as TV and going for drinks aren’t as relaxing as they used to be. The feeling of being wound so tight is ever present even though I’m not thinking about work.
The viciousness of being too busy is that not being able to sit down and finish a task at a time will delay and prolong every task that you need to do. The nagging feeling that you need to do more just hangs in the air and you try to work quicker rather than smarter.
What to do about it?
There will be times in our lives when we will simply be over busy; we will simply have too many things to do and not enough time to do them. How do you handle it? Again the answer to this question is both personal and case specific but there are a few items that seem to be universal in my mind:
- Limit your tasks
- Concentrate on a task till its complete
- Stop taking new tasks
- Don’t worry – it will just slow you down
The first one is easy; if there’s something that you can delegate to another person then do it. It doesn’t have to be a permanent thing; even a short reprieve can help you get caught up on the monster to do list. The second item takes practice, at least for me. Limit yourself to the number of major tasks that you’re trying to accomplish in one day. If you keep rewriting everything from the previous day on your to do list then it’ll be too daunting to finish in the day.
Which leads into the next point, when you’re working on something concentrate on it and finish it in one session rather than leaving it. The other thing to consider is by concentrating I mean don’t let interruptions get in the way; People think that a simple interruption (even a minute or two) isn’t a big deal when in reality the impact is it will take you a lot longer than those two minutes to you get back to where you were with the task.
The next item on my little list is the most obvious one for me. If you’re overloaded with work stop taking more! When someone asks if you can do something say no. If you’re in a position where you are told what to do push back and tell your boss that you’re already busy and you don’t want to sacrifice any of the tasks you’re working on including the new one. Most people appreciate this type of approach.
Finally don’t worry about it; if you’re overloaded with work worrying and getting stressed out about it will only take up time and make you less efficient. If you’re worried about a report you need to run at the office but you’re supposed to be in bed sleeping then you’re not getting enough rest. Remember you can only do so much.
Personal Finance Application
So what does this have to do with personal finance? Surprisingly a lot in my opinion, people treat their finances the same way they treat being overworked. When they need to spend money they go overboard and when the bills start piling up they don’t know where to start or what to do with them. I’ve been in this situation, not knowing what bill to pay first or how I would pay for all of them. This isn’t a good situation to be in since the impact is considerable.
The approach is very similar to being over busy. Step 1 – you have to stop the spending, Step 2 – a systematic approach to getting everything paid for however slowly. This maybe an oversimplification but realistically step 1 is really the solution and everything else is digging out of the hole you’ve dug yourself into.
Being overwhelmed by your finances or your work isn’t a good situation to be in because of the impact mentally. Some people are able to handle the stress but given time everyone will feel the effects. There is only so much time in the course of a day, you can’t create more time but you can use it wisely. The same goes for your finances you only make so much money, apply and use it wisely.