Prior to going on holiday, I had attended the kick for the Capgemini Future Leaders Programme 2018 (which you can read more about here). This day introduced us to the leadership journey we are about to embark on, and as such, I was left with a fresh mindset and a sense of excitement about how I might start to apply some of the messages from that day. My return back to work, however, was a lot less gracious.
As I am sure many of you have experienced, I opened my inbox on that Monday morning to an insurmountable list of emails, tasks that hadn’t been done, and a list of new ones yet to be started.
I’m not ashamed to say that this all got the better of me and I have felt very stressed and overwhelmed about it lately. The expressions on my face must have given me away because it prompted my manager to ask me if I was okay.
I am fortunate to have a very approachable manager, and so what followed was a very frank conversation about how I was feeling. Up until then, I had never considered uttering the words “I can’t cope” or “I can’t do it all” for fear of sounding weak, but on this day, I felt I had no choice but to say I have too much on my to do list.
We then spoke about the various ways that I could approach the things on my to do list, such as delegating more tasks to others, prioritising my own tasks differently, etc. But the piece of advice that struck me the most was to allow some things to simply stop – or to put them on pause for a while.
In our line of work, it is very easy to fall into a cycle of thinking that there is always more that you could be doing. I remember a similar feeling whilst studying at university – there are always more papers you could analyse or books that you could read – but, just because we can do them (i.e. we have the skills to do it) doesn’t mean we should (i.e. we don’t have the time right now). So, for those tasks that don’t have an impending deadline or aren’t part of my project work, I am going to try to put some on pause and delegate some others. I don’t expect that I will always find this easy, but it is worth practicing in order to help my piece of mind, and will no doubt become more important as i take on greater responsibilities in the future.
For anyone struggling with this or similar issues, I would recommend speaking to those around you first. You’d be surprised at how many people have experienced something similar, and will jump to help you, not judge you. Within Capgemini, and I’m sure other companies too, we also have a variety of other support options, from self-help tips, to on the phone counsellors, to longer term support.
Don’t struggle in silence #endthestigma.