Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 18, Issue 7;   February 14, 2018: How to Get Overwhelmed

How to Get Overwhelmed

by

Last updated: August 8, 2018

Here's a field manual for those who want to get overwhelmed by all the work they have to do. If you're already overwhelmed, it might explain how things got that way.
Overwhelmed

Being overwhelmed at work can be both terrible and wonderful. Terrible, in the sense that it wrings all the fun out of the job, because of the long hours at work, and the sleepless nights spent mentally picking through all the tasks undone. But being overwhelmed is wonderful in the sense that it provides the clearest possible proof that only your dedication and stellar performance protects your employer from catastrophes in the marketplace, and the otherwise inevitable bankruptcy.

So if you want to feel important, being overwhelmed is definitely for you. Here are six tips for creating an overwhelming feeling of being overwhelmed.

Say yes to everything
Whenever anybody asks for anything, drop whatever you're doing and do as they ask, even if what they want isn't part of your actual job. Although this takes time you could use to do your job, you also lose time trying to get back to doing whatever you were doing before you were interrupted. If you can't drop whatever you were doing, promise to fill the request "as soon as I can," and add it to the clutter already clogging your brain.
Set each task's priority to "Extremely Urgent"
Being discriminating If you want to feel important,
being overwhelmed is
definitely for you
about priorities focuses your mind and your effort on a single item, which helps you complete tasks quickly. We definitely don't want that. It interferes with feeling overwhelmed. Setting all task priorities to "Extremely Urgent" prevents your focusing on any one task.
Spend too much time on things you like to do
Dawdling over tasks you enjoy is actually a form of procrastination. It helps you defer everything else, and since you're doing something semi-constructive, you don't experience the anxiety and guilt that accompanies straightforward procrastination.
Refuse to use any tools that could make you more efficient
In some instances, tools are available to eliminate work, or to make work more efficient. Don't learn how to use them. If you already know how to use them, and you can't figure out how to forget, think of good excuses to avoid using them. Examples: the tool is buggy; it produced wrong results on April 10, 2003, so I never use it; the user interface keeps changing; it doesn't run in my operating system; whatever.
Do other people's work for them
When people ask you how to do something, don't tell them how. Instead, do it for them. You don't want them to learn, because then they won't ask you anymore, which decreases your sense of importance.
Underestimate the time required to complete tasks
Underestimates serve two purposes. First, they create the illusion that you have time enough to take on additional tasks. Second, they help you believe that you can meet impossible deadlines. Both illusions are important to maintaining a state of being overwhelmed.

I have several more suggestions, but I don't want to overwhelm you. Go to top Top  Next issue: The Ultimate Attribution Error at Work  Next Issue

How to Spot a Troubled Project Before the Trouble StartsProjects never go quite as planned. We expect that, but we don't expect disaster. How can we get better at spotting disaster when there's still time to prevent it? How to Spot a Troubled Project Before the Trouble Starts is filled with tips for executives, senior managers, managers of project managers, and sponsors of projects in project-oriented organizations. It helps readers learn the subtle cues that indicate that a project is at risk for wreckage in time to do something about it. It's an ebook, but it's about 15% larger than "Who Moved My Cheese?" Just USD 19.95. Order Now! .

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

Suspension cables of the Brooklyn Bridge, which spans the East River between Manhattan and BrooklynDealing with Negative Progress
Many project emergencies are actually the result of setbacks — negative progress. Sometimes these mishaps are unavoidable, but often they're the result of patterns of organizational culture. How can we reduce the incidence of setbacks?
Mess line, noon, Manzanar Relocation Center, California, 1943Remote Facilitation in Synchronous Contexts: II
Facilitators of synchronous distributed meetings — meetings that occur in real time, via telephone or video — encounter problems that facilitators of face-to-face meetings do not. Here's Part II of a little catalog of those problems, and some suggestions for addressing them.
A dwarf apple tree typical of modern commercial varietiesWacky Words of Wisdom
Words of wisdom are so often helpful that many of them have solidified into easily remembered capsules. We do tend to over-generalize them, though, and when we do, trouble follows. Here are a few of the more dangerous ones.
The Challenge vs. Skill diagram, showing the "Flow" regionTop 30 Indicators That You Might Be Bored at Work
Most of the time, when we're bored at work, we know we are. But sometimes, we're bored and we just don't realize it. Here are some indicators of boredom that might escape some people's notice.
A view from the false summit of the Manitou incline in ColoradoFalse Summits: I
Mountaineers often experience "false summits," when just as they thought they were nearing the summit, it turns out that there is much more climbing to do. So it is in project work.

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness and Critical Thinking at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Representative Don Young, Republican of AlaskaComing June 26: Appearance Antipatterns: I
Appearances can be deceiving. Just as we can misinterpret the actions and motivations of others, others can misinterpret our own actions and motivations. But we can take steps to limit these effects. Available here and by RSS on June 26.
Filling a form in hardcopyAnd on July 3: Appearance Antipatterns: II
When we make decisions based on appearance we risk making errors. We create hostile work environments, disappoint our customers, and create inefficient processes. Maintaining congruence between the appearance and the substance of things can help. Available here and by RSS on July 3.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsLearn how to make your virtual global team sing.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.