So many things to do, so little time…
You probably heard this so many times and even used it yourself. It can’t be helped. With a very competitive market riddled with disruptions and fast technological advancements, we must ALWAYS keep up. Sometimes, the need to keep up all the time will require you to be looped in 24/7 – which to be honest, can be overwhelming.
When you have too many priorities to take care of – with little resources and time – then you’re bound to feel overwhelmed. What can you do about it?
How to handle work overload
1. Acknowledge the situation.
The trick to solving any problem is recognising it exists. How can you get to the bottom of something if you don’t know what’s wrong?. Sometimes, we need to reprioritise and ask for help. Take a step back and see everything from a distance. It sounds challenging to step away especially for people who are always working and pursuing perfection, but you need to back away a little bit to gain perspective.
Acknowledge that you are overwhelmed. The sooner you do this, the faster you can come up with a strategy to deal with it before it consumes you.
2. Reframe your mindset and prioritise.
It all starts with the right mindset. After acknowledging that you’re overwhelmed, you need to change your perspective. Don’t start your reasoning with “I’m already overwhelmed”. Change that into more concrete or specific thoughts like: “I need to do eight things today in three hours”. This gives you a different idea on what you need to do. Cut out the generalisations. Once you see you only have three hours to work with and with what task, you’ll be able to identify which ones should take priority.
Revise your to-do list. Which items on your list are critical? Which ones should be due today and which ones can take a backseat even slightly? Do you need to do everything? Could your colleagues or your manager/superior lend a hand or provide direction.
3. Get real.
It needs to be emphasised. You have to get real when completing your tasks. Can you finish all of them? Sometimes, not everything on our to-do list is of our own making. Sometimes, someone requests them without having a full picture of things? As ambitious as you can be however, also be realistic about the agenda. Focus on the critical items, re-assess your load with your manager. It’s better to delay some things than failing to deliver them with an impossible deadline.
4. Be creative. Keep going.
Sometimes, the way out of a bind is to go unconventional. You’ll find it easier to come up with a solution when you define your problems clearly. Brainstorm options and list all ideas without prejudice. Be creative. There’s a reason why they say that thinking out of the box can sometimes be the best thing you can do. Your answers don’t always have to be what other people did before. It can be completely original.
Being overwhelmed or overworked can lead to many potential problems. For example, a study from the Academy of Management Journal claims that overworked managers tend to act less reasonably. Fair employee treatment takes a backseat as managers focus on the technical or operational tasks when faced with too many priorities.
Whether you’re a manager or an employee, addressing being overwhelmed as soon as possible helps you avoid other work issues.