Days that rush away

Estimated 4 minute read · Monday, 9 May 2016

Are you busy but don't feel productive? I feel this way sometimes. It is exhausting. How can we find ways to feel fulfilled and accomplished at the end of the day?

Rushed days leave me feeling exhausted. Today was one of those days. Events were back-to-back. Emails and instant messages were streaming in. There was little time to breathe.

Have I fallen victim to "rush hour syndrome"?

When days get filled to the brim with noise and tasks that cannot be completed, how can we not feel exhausted and unaccomplished? Surely this can't be healthy.

  • It's affected my memory: And not in a good way. My memory gets worse when I'm doing too many things at once. Stand-ups are challenging as I struggle to recall the mixture of interlaced tasks that I juggled the day before.

  • Quality suffers: If I can't focus on something and do that well, the quality will take a knock. Constant context-switching and multi-tasking are a real threat.

  • Expectations aren't met: If I am too busy I struggle to get round to managing expectations. If business is expecting something but there is something else keeping me busy, they need to be aware of it.

  • TODOs spiraling out of control: Production bugs, changes, queries, issues, improvements, suggestions... the list just grows. It feels like a mountain growing on my back.

What went wrong?

Some days I am very good at tackling things. Today I felt like an imposter. I felt like I had no idea of what I was doing and all my improvements went out the window. Everything felt like a mammoth task that couldn't easily be completed. How did I get here?

Taking on too much

I am overburdened this month - both in my personal and professional capacity. I've committed to too much. Much like a sprint, I need to cut down my commitments to manageable chunks which alleviates pressure. Challenging myself is good but spreading myself thinly causes exhaustion.

Less time for myself

By taking on too much I have little time to breathe. I need to make time to meditate again. This helped align my mental being with the physical world. I do Pilates and Yoga twice a week and am in a better state of mind afterwards.

Playing other roles

I have eight years of experience being a one person team. If something needs to be done I am naturally able to complete it, regardless of the role required. This doesn't go down well in a corporate as I can't possibly do everything on my own. Sometimes I forget this.

If I have an impediment, I usually sort it out myself. This eats into the time for the work that I have committed to completing. Depending on the nature of the impediment, sometimes I need a friendly reminder from a Scrum Master to say, "Hey you, I am here. Let me help you."

I stopped documenting "task creep"

I had a great conversation with my Product Owner one day about how I was struggling to keep track of all sorts of tasks that crept into a sprint. She suggested keeping a journal. It helped with remembering what kept me busy during the day. I could also raise flags that could improve our process and escalation procedures.

When I'm overwhelmed, writing things down feels like it's adding to the things I need to do, so I slipped out of it. This was a mistake.

Not asking for help

I had a list of things I needed to do but wasn't finding time in the sprint to do them. I raised this with the team. They gladly offered to pick up a task and help out where they could as it affected our team and product.

Being hard on myself

These are all bad habits that I am trying to improve on. Like any habit it is hard to unlearn overnight. When I feel overwhelmed, the habits are triggered and I am back to square one. Instead of feeling like an imposter, I should just acknowledge that I am having an off day and get assistance where I can.

My final thoughts

By being aware of my flaws I am able to actively improve on them. It may not go as well as expected each day but that's okay. Being hard on myself isn't going to help me.

Trusting in a team and working in an environment where you are granted the opportunity to continuously learn and improve is something I can leverage on.

For now some days may be rushing by but who knows what the future will hold if I keep on improving?

If you have experienced this or have found ways to improve your day, please share in the comments below. It is a great way to learn through the experience of others.

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