Dear Dawn… Stressed! – The Answer
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Dear Dawn… Stressed! – The Answer

Dear Dawn… Stressed! – The Answer

Gulf Business’ leadership expert, Dawn Metcalfe, answers the tenth question in the series.


After another week of discussion and comments the Gulf Business agony aunt Dawn Metcalfe gives her expert opinion on the latest question in the series.

The query last week was:

Dear Dawn,

I’ve recently been promoted and I’m loving the new job but there seems to be so much more work than before and I’m getting stressed.

Not enough time!

And here is Dawn’s expert opinion:

Dear Not enough time,

The most important thing to remember is that you can’t manage time; instead you have to manage yourself. Here are some tips that should help you regain control.

1) Work out where your time goes.
To find out what your time is being spent on, start keeping an “activity log”. Every time you start and end a new activity, including taking a break, make note of the time. If you are not used to tracking your time it may be a bit of an adjustment, but within a few days you should be able to notice any time-wasters you might not have been aware of.

2) Get organised.
Use your calendar and a to-do list. Analyze and prioritise using a system that works for you. Try Dave Allen’s “Getting Things Done” for some inspiration or get a coach to help you.

3) Don’t over-commit yourself.
Avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day. All too often, we underestimate how long things will take.

4) Get rid of interruptions.
Unless you are expected to be on call, work on eliminating interruptions. Select a time of day when you will return phone calls and emails. During other times, let your voice mail take messages for you. You can also create an autoreply for your email to let people know their message has been received. If your email says you will respond within 24 hours if a reply is required, it may deter someone from repeatedly trying to contact you in the meantime.

5) Give yourself some breathing time.
Try to leave earlier in the morning. Even 10-15 minutes can make the difference between frantically rushing to your desk and having time to ease into your day. Don’t add to your stress levels by running late. Scheduling real breaks during the day helps too.

6) Break it down.
Break projects into small steps. If a large project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.

7) Spend your time wisely.
Spend your time working on things that are important. This may sound obvious, but many of us are tempted to work on easy tasks first so we can have a sense of accomplishment e.g. answering emails. Time spent on those “easy” tasks can quickly add up, creating even more stress when there does not appear to be enough time left for the important work. Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely. If in doubt ask your boss to help you define a set of criteria against which you can make decisions.

8) Delegate.
You don’t have to do it all yourself, whether at home, school, or on the job. If other people can take care of the task, why not let them? Let go of the desire to control or oversee every little step. You’ll be letting go of unnecessary stress in the process. Remember, however, that whilst delegating can help to develop others, if you do it wrong you may alienate the people you need to help you.

Good luck!


The next professional query for week nine is now live and open for comment and debate. Follow the link here to participate.

Send your questions for Dawn anonymously to [email protected] and see them answered here next time.

Dawn Metcalfe is the managing director of Performance Development Services (PDS). Find out more at


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