Stop for a minute and take a deep breath. Hold it. Now exhale. In our desire to live fuller and richer lives, we can often find ourselves in the midst of trying to deal with what I call a full plate. A full plate is when we have so many things going on all at once that we start to feel overwhelmed and maybe even lose control. No matter how you look at it, most of us have plates that are quite full, and there are some days and weeks when it just seems like more and more gets piled on, with no end in sight.
Many times I have observed people attempting to manage their full plate with little success, until things start crashing all around them. This can be quite overpowering–not to mention embarrassing–when things start clanging and banging. Frustration mounts, words fly and failure is not far away.
So how do I manage my full plate? I'm glad you asked! For me, the first step is to get honest with myself (and others, if necessary) by admitting it: "Wow, I do have a full plate." Then as I simply take a deep breath I remind myself that I must take things only one bite at a time. There is power in the concept of DIVIDE and CONQUER. Breaking projects down into manageable bits and pieces and building actionable "to do" lists and establishing some realistic deadlines and timelines really help me to succeed in completing some of the tasks that are causing my plate to overflow.
Next, I get the clutter out of my way. I clear my desk of every thing that is not related to the key project or task I want to focus on. Then I go to work, and keep working until I am able to bring the project or task to a conclusion. I allow myself to really enjoy what I am doing and do not worry about any of the other things that I have set aside for a later time. This undivided focus helps me to get a great deal done in less time than if I were trying to do too many things at once. Face it, we all love to think we are experts at multi-tasking, but we all really are only capable of doing the important things in life and business, one thing at a time.
When you have finished your project, enjoy the good feelings that come because you have experienced some success. Savor that sense of accomplishment for a minute or so before you dive back in and start focusing on yet another project. I would recommend that you also take some time to prioritize the rest of the list before moving on.
Remember to be realistic-you are only a human being and not Superman or Wonder Woman. I guarantee that simply getting control of this one thing will boost your confidence and move you further in the right direction. Pause as often as necessary and clear your head-perhaps you could go for a walk or call a good friend. Doing something to break the routine, even if for only five or ten minutes will work wonders. When refreshed and ready to re-focus, dive back in to get that plate cleaned up. Before long you will be back into control of the circumstances in your life and managing things much more effectively.