There’s one time when the to-do list can lead to burnout. When it’s continually unreasonable. Keep giving a person an impossible to do list and burnout will inevitably come. Think about that: the impossible, unreasonable and the inevitable.

Talk about a toxic to do list. One of our Fortune 500 clients was given major responsibility to oversee and move forward over 50 projects at one time. Clearly, nobody gave attention to stress and time management as serious concepts. This is what happens when things keep getting downloaded in the midst of an environment that promotes cuts with only one measuring factor in mind … the bottom line.

Many people in organizations sense that there’s just far too much list left at the end of the day. The leader referred to here hardly knew where to start, and it led directly to a plan to get out of there. Too much = overload = burnout. Really the situation was silly in the extreme. I mean, who counts up to find they have 50 projects to think about?

Time management should really be all about priority management but when there is no clear direction of what the real priorities are, time becomes victim to lack of direction. Work-flow suffers.

Everyday we deal with men and women who want to move forward significant causes, projects and programs. But the lists they work from are so long it cripples them. And that means they have no sense of moving forward. The list buries them every night. Often with smaller organizations I deal with, like Christian nonprofits, boards just haven’t taken the time to think through the real priorities and create a master plan to guide the organization and in particular its leader.

It’s frustrating and no matter how well meaning and it far too often leads to problems with time management…and burnout follows. The individual, as good as they may be, simply has a hard time navigating what’s required.