The Consequences of Being Overbooked

From the minute you come in the door, your workday calendar is filled – there are internal meetings, client meetings, project lists and other commitments. One leads right into the next, with no break in between.

Sound familiar? You’re overbooked!

In today’s culture, if you’re not doing something at all times, you’re perceived – by others as well as yourself – as being unproductive. So you schedule back-to-back-to-back meetings that have you doing, running, running, running, doing, doing, doing, from one activity to the next.

Here are three major consequences of being overbooked:

1) You’re not available to people. The people at work (let alone your spouse or kids!) will have trouble getting time with you. They’re missing out on the coaching and development they need, and you’re missing out on having an engaged workforce of people who are working to their full potential.

2) You’ve got no time to think. When you’re running, rushing, acting and doing, there’s no value placed on contemplation or planning – the first things that fall off the calendar when leaders are rushing to meetings or putting out fires.

I always teach my clients the importance of “think, plan, act.” Thinking and planning aren’t leftover activities that you do when (or if) you have time. They’re essential business practices that will make or break your success. But if you’re running around all day, you’ll be too worn out for the real strategic type of thinking you need to be doing.

3) You’re missing things. One meeting goes overtime, so you’re rushing to the next one. Your work time gets bumped, and you’re not able to live up to all of your commitments. Then someone catches you in the hallway with an urgent issue, and throws your schedule further out of whack.

If you’re overbooked with no room in between, you can’t do the problem solving that’s required in the course of a business day. You’ll either have to ignore the fire that’s just cropped up, or tend to it and drop one of your other commitments. It’s one or the other.

To do something really right takes time, and if you’re overbooked, you don’t have that time. That means you’re only doing things half right. Doing things half right means you’re going to have to go back and fix them, and that’s just going to take more time.

If you take a look underneath the hood, I suspect that the reason you’re overbooked is because you’re doing other people’s work for them, you’re making their decisions for them, and you’re picking up the slack instead of holding them accountable to do what they said they would do.

You need to be spending your time doing the strategic thinking, and developing your people to do the doing jobs. Yes, that will take time. And no, you can’t afford to skip this step.

The more responsibility you take on, the busier your day will become, and the less time you’ll have for your most important high-level tasks. It’s a real Catch-22, and one that will only stop when you stop it.

Start by looking at tomorrow’s appointments. Where can you add in some gaps? If you’re looking for something to take out or move, consider which tasks really belong to someone else – and give them back.

Need help wrangling your schedule and making your people accountable for doing their own work? Alan M. Dobzinski is a masterful meeting facilitator who can pull your team together and get you back on top. Contact him today.