Are You A New Manager? Here Are 5 Ways To Not Feel Overwhelmed
Being a manager is easy. It’s like riding a bike.
Except the bike is on fire. You’re on fire. Everything is on fire. And you’re in hell.
If you’re a new manager, I hope I helped you laugh away the pain. Being a new manager comes with a whole new set of responsibilities and expectations, from both your bosses and your team. The overload of new work and tasks may sometimes cause managers to feel as if they are drowning in work.
Sadly, the common quick fix for this is to bury our noses in the never-ending to-do list. In reality, this may be the worst way to cope when we have too much on our plate. So, the next time you feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water, here are some ways to regain control of your work life.
1. Take time to plan
As the saying goes: When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
A good planning system is one of the best ways to improve your time management and offload your mental clutter. Proper planning gives you a good overview of your schedule, giving you full control of every hour in your day. Nowadays with planning tools and apps so easily available to us, it is much easier to properly allocate time for each task. Some helpful suggestions for planning apps are Google Calendar, Remember the milk, and Todoist – all available on Apple App Store and Google Play Store. With good time management, you can stay ahead of the game and not be sidetracked by trivial tasks.
Besides, your planning time can double as your “me time” – to relax and recharge. Allowing you to enter your zen mode and closing off the world to think about what your best life would look like. We’ll look more into zen mode later on.
2. Set smaller and more manageable goals
Make sure the goals you set for yourself are manageable. With a new shiny title, there is a tendency to spread ourselves too thin in the efforts to impress others to prove our worth. It can be hard to say no to more work when our ego and reputation are on the line. After all, we want everyone to see that we’re eager and willing to accept any new challenges. But, if you are already feeling swamped, this can only do more harm than good.
By setting smaller and more realistic goals, it will be more attainable and you will be more motivated to achieve them. As the Malay saying goes, sedikit-sedikit lama lama jadi bukit – so don’t worry about getting everything right, and celebrate every small win in your new journey.
3. Delegate to your team
A helpful question to ask is: “What is the best use of my time?”
Managers are often struck with the fear of giving up control as it seems that work can be done better and faster if they were to do it themselves. While this may be true, there is also truth in the saying, if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
If you’re one who would like to go far, BetterUp, a behavioural change coaching company, has broken down the 6 steps to effective delegation. This would help in your thought process when deciding how to delegate to your team.
Delegating certain tasks to others not only takes some burden off your shoulders as a new manager, but also empowers your team to give them more opportunities to prove themselves. Your team is there to support you, so give them that chance!
4. Ask for guidance and feedback
Asking for feedback can be daunting because we must be open to receiving negative feedback. But, effective feedback, both positive and negative is very helpful. By getting feedback, managers are able to understand how the team perceives them and what they are doing right and what can be improved.
Guidance from those with more managerial experience can help new managers get a fresh perspective and understand the challenges that come with the new role. With proper guidance, managers can develop a spirit of self-confidence which allows them to solve difficult problems and make good business decisions.
5. Prioritize your personal time
Speaking of zen mode earlier, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial to sustaining the long haul. Unfortunately, when we feel overwhelmed with work, our typical response is to work harder and put in longer hours – rather than stepping back and evaluating our workload.
With this, it is important to protect your time. The concept of time boxing is a powerful technique which places a hard limit on the amount of time devoted to every activity in your day. As the term implies, time boxing starts with you opening your calendar and entering the block of time set aside for each task. Other useful tools to use along with this technique are timers or time tracker tools to monitor how much time you spend on each task – this lets you properly set aside time for both your personal and work life.
Finally, when you start to feel like you’re losing it, take a deep breath. If we are perpetually overwhelmed, cognitive fatigue can happen – causing side effects ranging from mental slowness, confusion, and difficulty in focusing. To ease the extent and frequency to which you may feel overwhelmed with work, the above steps will better prepare you to face these situations. Remember, control is all about proper planning and being honest about what you can handle.