Taking on too much is the downfall of highly motivated people. The voice in our
heads just won’t shut up: “No one can do it as well as you can.”
It’s the battle of the clichés: Round One: “If you want something done right, do it yourself” VS. “You can’t do it all.”
While it is tempting to try to do everything yourself, eventually you will find that you are getting much less done than you intended. The problem is simple: your efforts and concentration are being spread too thin. Ambition and motivation are important, and it’s definitely true that you need to work hard to get ahead, but when your inner voice protests that you simply “can’t do everything” you need to listen to it. Consider your goals and your schedule before agreeing to take on extra work. Ask yourself: “Is this something that I really need to be taking on?” Don’t rush around in a tornado of activity accomplishing nothing important. There is no value in simply “being busy.”
Our personal lives are as important as our careers, and to be successful in both, we need to find the balance between being a perfectionist and working yourself to the point of burnout.
Here is a simple rule of thumb: If you know that someone else can do the task almost as well as you can do it, delegate. If you can do it 100% and someone else can do it 85%, delegate. Their 85% at a semi-important task, coupled with your 100% as a very important task makes 185% of progress, right? Can’t argue with math.
Take a look at that To-Do List you just made, and re-assess it as a “Get it Done” list instead. Just because it’s on your list doesn’t mean you have to do every little bit of it yourself. What can you cross off the list and give someone else to do? What is the best use of your time? You can spend an hour trying fix the stapler, or you can send someone to buy a new stapler. You can try to do your own bookkeeping to save some money, or you can spend the afternoon working on generating sales worth ten times what you would spend on a bookkeeper to do it for you. What is your time worth?
Scan your “To Do List” for items that really don’t need to get done. Also look for items that could be done effectively by someone other than you. Be kind to yourself. You’ve already got enough on your plate. When your boss asks you if you have time to take on an article for the monthly newsletter, say no. When an old school friend asks you to walk her dog for a month because she is going on a backpacking trip across Europe, say no. When your client wants you to take on more work but can’t afford to pay you more, say no. If the task isn’t going to advance you toward your goal, whatever that may be, you need to say no. Saying “No” is better than saying “Yes” and then not following through.