Five projects are due next week. You’re a blocker for two teams across four of those projects. You need to hire three new team members to handle all the work going on, but you have no time to find that hire.
What do you do?
You could work 12-15 hour days. You could find a new place to work. Or you could ignore most of what’s going on, focus on one or two things at a time, and deal with the fallout. Sometimes that last option is a decent one.
Here’s the thing. There’s not really a great answer. We all find ourselves in situations where there’s too much to do. In no particular order, here’s how I’ve found ways to deal with the insanity:
- Take a break – Every seven days, on Saturday, I completely disconnect from work. That means I won’t check my work email, Slack, Github issues, design updates, attend business calls, business conferences, etc. It’s a solid rule I’ve made for my whole career, and it’s one of the reasons I’ve kept from getting fully burned out. At times I’ve gotten close, but there was always knowing Saturday would come and I could disconnect for 24 hours.
- Get help from your team – It’s tempting to think we’re the only person in the world who can solve a problem. That’s not the case, not at all. If you work with others, or even if you’re completely on your own, chances are there’s someone out there who can help you.
- Force constraints – Find a way to shrink the amount of work. There’s usually somewhere that fat can be cut without compromising the integrity of what you’re building.
- Don’t overwork for too long – We’ve all done it where we worked a ton of hours for an extended period of time. The reality though is the quality of work absolutely suffers the more time we put in without rest. Sometimes it means deciding you’re done for the day and getting a full night’s sleep to tackle the problem with a fresh set of eyes.
- Be nice to yourself – You’re amazing. You’re doing wonderful work, you believe in what you’re building, give yourself a bit of a break. It’s going to be ok.
- It will be ok – Yes, this is worth repeating. You’ll get through this. Keep up the great work!