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How easily do you get overwhelmed by spikes in your workload?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

How easily do you get overwhelmed by spikes in your workload?

  • Not at all. I can handle anything that comes at me: 48%
  • Somewhat. A big spike can overwhelm me: 49% 
  • Very. It doesn’t take much to make me feel overwhelmed: 3%

Bring it on (mostly)! Workload spikes happen all the time. Whether it’s a crisis, new project, sick colleague, or just a busy day, getting overwhelmed can happen in the blink of an eye. Your ability to manage the spike comes down to perspective, prioritization, and focus. Perspective matters because it helps you mitigate stress. Stress hampers performance and you need to be at your peak during a workload spike. Figure out techniques for maintaining perspective in crises. Remember what’s important. Be ruthless in your prioritization and execute one task at a time. Multitasking creates friction and you lose efficiency. Focus on a task, get it done, and move on to the next. You’ll find spikes are easier to handle when you follow these simple principles.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box,” and “The Elegant Pitch.”