To Manage Workload, Right-Size Your Goals

A great takeaway from the Selah/Rockwood refresher training I attended yesterday: Workload = Goals / (Timeframe x Resources x Efficiency)

If your workload is unmanageable, the best way to tinker with this equation is to right-size your goals.


  • The timeframe available for our work is often externally mandated.  We have to get the report done by the date of the board meeting, or the RFP is due on a certain date.
  • Resources are something we also often have limited control over.  We only have $100,0oo in our budget, one part-time staffer to help with the event, etc.
  • Efficiency is a place where many of us love to tinker but actual gains are modest.  Our ability to be more productive or efficient certainly helps move work along (and can greatly improve one's mental state), but doesn't really reduce workload if we have taken on too many commitments.

Our goals are where the biggest shifts are possible. How much are we committing ourselves to do?  Do we have three strategic goals for the year or seventeen? If our goals are unrealistically ambitious from the get, it is unlikely we will be able to make sufficient alterations to our timeframe, resources, or efficiency to regulate our workload.

Right-sizing goals can be hard -- especially for us social change folks, who have such big and long-term goals.  But we all know the alternative: burnout, disillusionment, and reduced effectiveness.  To be able to sustain ourselves as change agents over time, we need to make sure we are regulating our workload, and that means being more realistic about the goals we set for ourselves and our organizations.