Face it, you’re always busy. Your agenda is full, and it seems that you are continually adding more tasks to your to-do list. If you’re completely honest, you have the feeling that you are losing control.
And that feels lousy, right?
The good news is that things will get better.
Don’t you admire people are always calm even when they should be overwhelmed by work?
Somehow, they continue to keep their cool. Here’s how they do it.
A good system always has a zone around it where no action should occur. For example, let’s look at a thermostat that regulates the temperature in your room. Let’s say you set the temperature at 21 degrees. What does the system do when the temperature exceeds 21 degrees? Or less than 21 degrees? With most thermostats, there is usually a range of plus or minus two degrees. So between 19 and 23 degrees, nothing happens.
When the temperature is lower than 19 degrees, it sends out additional heat. Above 23 degrees, the valve is turned off. No additional heat goes to the system.
When a “non-active” zone doesn’t exist, the system switches constantly between sending energy and stopping. In this system, there is a lower limit and an upper limit whereby the system springs into action.
People who always keep their cool have this built into their way of life. They have a series of signals that tell them in advance that they best make timely adjustments.
These signals serve as a warning to take corrective actions.
Pay Attention To Warning Lights
When you have warning signs in place, this helps you protect yourself from unwanted effects. For example, when you are driving a vehicle on the road and a warning light flashes on the instrument panel saying, “low oil” or “low coolant” you know you need to take action.
Take this concept and apply it to yourself and how you feel. You want to be sure your lights come on time.
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As a knowledge worker, you may skip lunch from time to time to focus on your work. This is not a good idea; hunger is one of your body’s natural warning lights. When you feel hungry, this is a signal that you have actually waited too long to eat. Your glucose level and sugar levels in the blood are already too low, which often leads to eating too much.
Good indicators are signals that tell you how to stay on course. If you do not listen to these signals, many times you will have to intervene drastically.
Here are some indicators telling you that you are losing control.
1. Your concentration levels are lower than normal.
A job will take longer than usual. You struggle more with distraction and cannot focus on the task at hand. You find your attention is being hijacked by all kinds of signals.
2. You work more hours.
It is not unusual to occasionally work a few more hours, but you have been working more hours consistently for an extended period of time. You find yourself calling your family several times saying that you’re going to come home later.
3. You feel less enthusiastic when you get up.
When the morning alarm clock chimes, you find yourself frustrated and not looking forward to the day ahead. You press the snooze button several times in the hope that those nine extra minutes make things better.
4. You check your email inbox more than usual.
You notice that you are clicking the “send and receive” button on your email program more than usual.
5. You find yourself more tired.
Your mental and physical energy levels are lower than usual. Instead of using the evening to enjoy family life or friends, you find yourself asleep on the sofa.
6. You are not confident that you are doing the right things.
Ad hoc cases all seem to be urgent and important. Urgent tasks and important tasks are finding their way into the background. You find your confidence levels wavering.
7. You have a lack of consistency.
The momentum you had in recent months now seems broken. You have ignored the messages and notifications you set up to remind yourself to work out. You realize that you can eliminate these messages.
8. You are very irritable.
You have a shorter fuse than usual and that is not how you normally act. Your responses are petulant in nature and others may find themselves uncomfortable around you.
9. You find yourself complaining.
When your coworkers complain about any issues, you find yourself joining in.
So what can you do if you notice these warning signs creeping into your life? Most importantly, you should take a break. Recharge your energy levels and sort things out.
The great news is that this doesn’t necessarily take a lot of effort. You may just need to take a walk or take the afternoon off. Another important step is to have accountability. Feel free to reach out to me and I would be glad to help you whether it be through training or coaching.