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When Unexpected Delays Happen, Take Advantage of Them

When Unexpected Delays Happen, Take Advantage of Them

“All great achievements require time.”
-Maya Angelou

You have a picture in your mind of launching and selling your handcrafted meditation cushions. You can visualize your on-line shop and imagine people buying your beautiful works of art. You’ve been working your butt off to make it happen. Long days, late nights, and gallons of coffee. You visualize your goal. It’s there just over the horizon!

Most of the pieces are now in place and it should be smooth sailing!

Then, unexpectedly, everything slows down. There’s a temporary machine malfunction at the factory that produces the cloth for the cushions. You’re frantically trying to find a material replacement but, it is a no-go.

It feels like you’re butting your head against a wall. All you have for your effort is a headache.

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Yup, been there done that!

When you start a project, you set a timeline — and now that timeline has a huge speed bump in it. All effort appears to be futile. In fact, your frustration, anger, and anxiety are making things worse.

Now what?

Turn the delay to your advantage.

“The obstacle is the path”
-Zen proverb.

The above quote might remind you of other obstacles you’ve faced along the way. If you look closely, you’ll see that each one served a purpose. (Isn’t 20/20 hindsight great?)

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These apparent obstacles helped you to grow, learn, and experience different facets of life. They were neither good nor bad, but just a part of your life’s road.

In any venture you take, be it business, relationship, or pleasure, you’ll find obstacles at some point. Since they’re bound to show up,  why not take advantage of them when they do?

Below are some ways you can do that…

Focus on the meaning of being an entrepreneur.

You can take advantage of the delay by reflecting on what it means to be an entrepreneur. Merriam-Webster on line defines an entrepreneur as a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

You’ve chosen to do what you want in life. So enjoy it! See the delay for what it is…a bump in the road and an opportunity to learn something new.

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Let go of expectations.

Try to get beyond the need to hold on to how things “should be” and accept a temporary “this is what it is.” Returning to the present moment stops you from going in to the “what if” mindset. Once the need for the “should” goes, along with it goes the anxiety and pressure you feel. This clears the way for something else to appear.

Time for a break.

This may sound silly, but you may be experiencing a case of self-sabotage! Perhaps you’ve been working long hours with little sleep and your body, mind, and spirit have had enough. There is a chance you’ve inadvertently made an error that has slowed things down. Take advantage of it, and take a break to refresh. Come back with a clear mind.

Celebrate your progress.

When you’re in the midst of creating a new project, it’s easy to ignore how much you’ve accomplished. So when progress is delayed, take time to look at what you’ve done. Celebrate your accomplishments up to this point — the big ones and the little ones too. It’s okay to pat yourself on the back and feel good about what you’re doing.



Look for fresh ideas.

Often when things go wrong and you’re backed into a corner, you’re forced to discover an innovative solution. Go ahead, free up some time to find a quiet place, clear your mind and see what shows up. Take the time, it’ll be worth it.

Keep productive.

Realizing that the situation is out of your control can be very freeing. While waiting for things to move forward again, you have the time to do those things that you have been putting off: answering non-urgent emails, calling your mom, meeting with friends, or finishing that tedious task you let slip. You might even find that your productivity gets a boost.

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In all areas of life you can expect the unexpected. That doesn’t mean you sit down and bemoan your lot. No! You stop for a moment, take a look around to see what you can do and then get on with that which can be done.

Each obstacle on the path to achieving greatness can be used to learn, excel and polish your craft.

The choice is yours, stay stuck or fly! I choose to fly! How about you?

Featured photo credit: HappyMotoring/MichaelLeland via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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