If you feel overworked, the problem might not be your job or the people you work with, but rather "whether the work on your plate is the right work for you," Sabina Nawaz, a global CEO coach, writes in Harvard Business Review.
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One of Nawaz's clients, Suleikha, an SVP of finance and administration, had firsthand experience being at her wits end with her workload. Suleikha was a reliable, hard worker who "worked seven days a week, never unplugged, neglected relationships at home, and deferred exercise," Nawaz writes.
Suleikha's demanding workload left her feeling "burned out" and she began to seriously consider quitting her job, Nawaz writes. But before Suleikha decided to leave, she turned to Nawaz for help.
Suleikha and Nawaz brainstormed ways that Suleikha could become happier and healthier in her job, asking key questions about Suleikha's workload and identifing tasks that could be offloaded.
Nawaz writes that to help Suleikha and other clients better manage their workloads she relies on a six-question process. These questions are designed to force the individual to consider whether a task on their to-do list actually needs to be done.
By asking these six questions, Suleikha was able to "mov[e] past her compulsion to take on every little thing" and is now able to focus her time on the most critical tasks, Nawaz writes. That, in turn, has made Suleikha happier and healthier both at work and home.
"When you believe you have to accomplish a million tasks, ask yourself these six questions," Nawaz writes. "You might discover there are more important things to do—ones that will increase your impact and prolong your longevity at work and in life" (Nawaz, Harvard Business Review, 2/27).
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