Help! I’m chained to my desk!

We’ve all been there. Those times when we have so much to do that we’re just not sure how it will all get done.  Emails are pouring in.  Reports are due.  The phone won’t stop ringing.  New social media communication tools are pinging you from all sides.  A new crisis has just popped up and you have not finished dealing with the old one! Each forms a link in a chain that has you attached to your desk.  

When overload hits, it’s easy to get sucked into it.  That just makes things worse.  As it sucks you down, it slows you down… just when you need to speed up.

At times like this, your attitude and the actions you take make all the difference. 

Mark Anderson’s cartoon has the right idea.  Find the positive in the situation.  You may be overloaded because THEY need YOU.  The question is… how will you meet all those demands.  Here are a few tips that work for me.

  1. Don’t be a super hero – Let others know that you need help.  There are always tasks that can be shared so that you can focus on those high priority ones that will make the most difference.
  2. Take yourself out of the game – Let people know that you are on deadline and that for the next 24 hours you will not be available but that you will get back to them.  This will give you the time and space to get stuff done and let them know why you are not responding immediately.  Our communication tools can actually help here.  Set your voicemail message, email responders and other tools  to share that you are “away” and when you will be back in touch along with an emergency contact who can be reached if it is REALLY time critical.  Folks will understand.  After all, we’ve ALL been there.
  3. Make the most of seclusion– Now that you have that precious quiet time, get organized. Turn EVERYTHING off so that you have no distractions. Make a list of all your high priority items (the ones you did not share) and then rank them in order of importance.
  4. Start with #1 and get it done.  Cross it off and tackle #2, then #3, then #4 and so on. With each one you will find your sense of accomplishment and your energy coming back to you.
  5. Tell them you’re back –  Once you are back in the game – let people know.  Respond to those new messages, send out an email to teammates sharing what you accomplished while you were away and re-engage.  As you are responding, don’t forget to thank them for their patience and for stepping up and watching your back while you were away.

There will always be times when we feel like we are chained to our desk.  By keeping the right attitude, taking the right action and getting the job done, we break those chains.  Soon we are free and have left a string of accomplishments behind us.  THAT is is the best way to create job security.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Joan Koerber-Walker is President and CEO of AZBio, the Arizona BioIndustry Association.  A two time Stevie Award National Finalist and former Fortune 500 executive, she is also the  Chairman of the Board of CorePurpose, Inc. and the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation and serves as Executive in Residence for Callaman Ventures.  As the former CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association and a past member of the Board of Trustees of the National Small Business Association in Washington, D.C. she has worked with hundreds of small businesses and on behalf of thousands.  Chat with her on Twitter as @joankw, @JKWgrowth, @JKWinnovation, @JKWleadership and @CorePurpose or at her blog at

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