Your Career and You: “Overload… ‘Hitting the Wall’”

Publication1This week, I finally did it, I’m pretty sure. One too many things on my plate, and I feel like I’m spinning in circles.

> The good news is, I know things will sort themselves out… somehow.
> The bad news is, I know who’s the cause of this dilemma…me.

My Madrid-based colleague Corina Manea recently wrote a great post for her own blog, “NutsPR,” talking about making time for yourself…getting some “me time.” The irony is that the reality of my current self-induced insanity hit home just as I was reading her post.

I urge/encourage my students at Curry College, especially those in my Public Relations Concentration, to “get involved” in on- and off-campus activities and organizations…to start building their personal and professional networks and gaining experience outside the classroom.

I truly believe that this is a crucial step in getting a start on a career….making connections and learning new things.

What I don’t do nearly well enough is help them understand that it’s okay to say “no” once in a while when they’re starting to feel overwhelmed.

Productivity depends entirely on your ability to produce, and when you’re overloaded, chances are you’re not going to do that…or at least do it well.

It’s a “learning experience.” There are no “how-to” books on how to really manage your time. Yeah, there are some that give “10 Tips for Effective Time Management” and all that. But you have to experience the sensation of overload…the knot in the stomach…the wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night cold sweat…to really get a sense of your own limits.

Then you have to start working on restructuring your priorities and identifying what’s really important versus what’s the latest bright-shiny-object so that you have some breathing room in your schedule…some time to just sit back and…well…just sit back.

As the saying goes, “To thine own self be true,” and part of that “truth” is accepting that you do have limits to what you can do.

Once you reach that realization, you’ll then be able to say, when the time comes, “Sorry, I’ve hit a wall. I can’t take on any more at this time.”

I actually did this in a recent department meeting. A colleague suggested that I volunteer to co-chair a committee. After a brief reflection, I looked him in the eye and said, “No thanks. I’ve got enough on my plate at this time.”

That night, I slept more soundly than I have in weeks. I had “hit the wall.” Now was time to sit back, focus on projects at hand (including this post!), and re-energize.

Try it sometime!


About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 20 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
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