Yann is feeling overwhelmed – how can he regain a sense of control?

Yann has a very heavy workload, he is working long days and taking work home and still he doesn’t feel he is in control. He’s sleeping badly and wakes up thinking  about everything he has to do and he’s getting stressed. He is finding it harder to concentrate and make decisions and he is snappy at work and home.

When he talks to his coach, Beth, she says, “What are your beliefs around this?” In discussing this question Yann realises that he is trying to do everything perfectly and that is just not possible – he only has so many hours in the day that he can assign to work.

So Beth says “It’s good that you recognise that you simply cannot do everything  - this means you need to prioritise and have a method for choosing the most important things to do.

Beth guides Yann through a process of defining his objectives – what he wants and needs to achieve in the next three months.

For each objective she gets Yann to list the tasks that need to be done. Beth says “Think of your objectives and workload as a number of trains that are proceeding towards their destinations. Each train represents a project and each train has a number of carriages – each carriage represents a task that needs to be done to achieve that project objective.”Train IMG_1485

Together they make a big wall diagram using different colour post-its for the tasks or  carriages in each project and Beth asks Yann to assign dates by which each task has to be achieved.


Beth then asks; “So are you going to do all these tasks yourself or are you going to delegate some of them?” Yann thinks about his team members and realises that there are some tasks and a small project he can delegate to one of his team – it will be a good development opportunity for them. He will need to supervise and monitor progress carefully – but that is fine as he can build this into his work plan.

Beth says ” Now you need a method for prioritising which tasks to do at any point in time and that should be based on how Important and Urgent they are.

Beth draws out the Important versus Urgent Grid and explains the fours categories:Time Mgt Grid

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important but not Urgent
  3. Urgent but not Important
  4. Not Urgent and Not important

and asks Yann to prioritise his work into the different categories. He has a report that is very important to the business and which needs finishing by tomorrow evening. This is a Category 1 task because it is both Important and Urgent. Beth explains there is a danger that if you let everything become Important and Urgent, that you will be continually firefighting and life becomes very stressful.  If the same report needed to be completed in a week’s time, it would be just as important to the business but not as urgent, so Yann could assign time in his diary to finish it and show it in his calendar as an appointment so other people cannot steal that time.

Yann works through the tasks for each of his project trains and books in time for working on the different tasks.

Beth asks him how things look now and he says “I realise that I need to be working on the Category 2 Important but Not Urgent tasks, in order to keep on top of my workload, but my managers and other colleagues keeping making more requests, and adding to my workload.”

Beth says” So what are you going to do when you get these requests?”

Yann replies; “I will ask them questions to find out more about the task and when it needs to be done. I won’t flit between tasks because I can see that wastes time, but I will tell them when I can do their request. And sometimes I may need to say “In order to do this new piece of work, I need to delay something else; sometimes I may need to ask  my manager to help me prioritise.”

At the end of their coaching session, Beth asks Yann how he feels. Yann smiles and says “I do feel better about things now and I have a way forward. And I am going to be strict with myself about the time I spend working. I realise that to remain healthy and productive, I need to keep time for my family and exercise and other things that are important to me.”

If you experience similar pressures to Yann, join us for the Managing Work, Time and Pressure Workshop on 20 October in London.  Discounts available to One Nucleus and Bionow members.

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