How to Handle Responsibility Overload

Barbara Weltman One of the main problems that many small-business owners face is stress. This is often caused by “responsibility overload,” which is simply a matter of having too much to do. According to Melissa C. Stopper, M.D., “‘stressed out’ people are not poor stress managers.” They just have too many commitments. Recognizing the problem is the first step in easing the stress.

Examine your responsibilities
As a small-business owner, you may have more responsibilities than you can handle without undue stress. After all, at work the buck stops with you. But some of the responsibilities you accept may be over and above what’s necessary.

Examine your daily responsibilities at work.Ask yourself what responsibilities you can assign to someone else (whether or not that person currently exists). If, for example, you currently handle your company’s collections, which is clearly a highly stressful activity, consider hiring someone to do this task for you or use an outside collection agency.

Examine your personal responsibilities away from work.Besides family commitments, small-business owners are often active in community affairs, participating in various charitable activities. Some of this work may be motivated by a desire to help; some may be because of business connections or for other reasons.

If you have too many outside commitments, recognize that you can’t maintain your current level of involvement with all of these organizations and causes. Ask yourself where you can limit these commitments. Don’t feel you’re letting anyone down by saying no to a new request for participation.

Learn to say no
One of the most difficult things that a small-business owner must learn is how to say no. Let others at your company handle their jobs themselves – don’t try to do it for them.

When faced with potential responsibilities, such as working for a new charity or heading up a business committee on a trade association, just say no. This can be easier to do if you recognize that you won’t be perceived as disinterested or lazy.

Schedule responsibility-free time
The adage “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is something to pay attention to. Take care of yourself so you can better take care of your business. Work into your business schedule some time each day for activities that can reduce your stress, such as:

  • Exercise
  • Fun
  • Medication
  • Prayer
  • Sleep

    Be sure to schedule vacation time to rejuvenate your mind and body. If you normally take (or want to take) a summer vacation, plan for it now.

    Category: Entrepreneurship
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