When I was getting ready to leave my last job, I was frantically trying to get everything done. I had a transition binder for my successor, of course, but there were so many loose ends that still needed to be addressed and I didn’t know if I could get them tied up. A very wise friend said, “You’re not supposed to get everything done. Otherwise, there would be no need for your replacement.” It seemed so obvious, and yet when I heard someone say it out loud, it made all the sense in the world.
I often think about that when I am overwhelmed, desperately trying to get all my work done – again. This has been especially true of late. I’ve been on a “hamster wheel” for months – and haven’t taken any real break from work. And while I am fortunate to have fun clients and interesting projects, it can still be exhausting at times. So I was interested to read HBR’s latest article, “You’re Never Going to be ‘Caught Up’ at Work. Stop Feeling Guilty About it.” And it’s true: have you ever gotten to the end of a work day and thought, “I’m done! Everything on my ‘to do’ list is complete and I am taking tomorrow off!”? I’m guessing that you have not had this experience. (And if you have, please call me, because I want to know how you did it!)
What I appreciated about HBR’s article is that it focuses on the positive. It encourages you to take care of yourself by exercising self-compassion. Focus on your accomplishments. Failing to get some work completed does not make you (or me!) a bad person – and unless you are a doctor, no one’s life is going to end because you failed to get everything done. It just makes you human. And I guarantee you: there will always be more to do.