Work overload is one of the most common problems in today's work culture, and it's something that shouldn't be taken lightly. Not only can it massively impact your morale and productivity if it's not dealt with effectively, but it can also lead to burnout, which is even more serious and more difficult to resolve.
So what are the best ways to deal with work overload? Below are my top 7 tips.
1. Start with a plan
One of the most important elements of managing work overload is knowing exactly how much and what work you need to get done on a given day. Make sure to come up with a plan and write down all your tasks and responsibilities.
The easiest and most effective way of doing this is to organize your work the night before. Too many people make the mistake of not having a proper plan in place (or leaving it for the next day), which can only make matters worse. With an increasing amount of tasks and no plans on how to tackle them, you won't be able to manage your workload effectively.
Now that you have a plan and a list of tasks that you have to complete, you need to decide how many of these tasks are actually important. Don't fall into the trap of trying to finish all your tasks at once or focusing on ones that are not urgent.
Have a look at your to-do list and try to decide which ones will give you the most benefits in the shortest amount of time or which ones have the tightest deadlines. If you need some help on how to do this, I've written about prioritisation in more detail in my post 10 Effective Ways of Prioritizing Your Workload.
3. Break down your tasks into smaller steps
You already know what your most important tasks are for the day, but you still have a very long list in front of you, and it all seems quite overwhelming.
One of the best ways to make it seem less daunting – and make your job much easier – is to break down each of these tasks into smaller steps that you need to complete. This will save you a considerable amount of time in the long run, and will make the task – and the end goal – seem much more manageable.
One of the most common mistakes we tend to make when it comes to managing our workload is trying to do more than what we can actually handle. We try to do it all but end up being overwhelmed by the amount of work we need to complete. The most effective way of avoiding this problem is to delegate tasks to other people within your company.
If there's a task on your list that you don't have the skills for, there's no shame in delegating it to someone who is more suitable. Not only will this give you more time to work on other, more important things, but it will also result in a more effective and productive team as well.
5. Create a team
Teamwork is a powerful thing, especially when it's a team of the right people - people who are highly skilled in their fields and are highly motivated. The more skilled and motivated people you can assign in a team, the more likely you are to experience success. Creating an effective team can help you manage your work overload while contributing to the company's overall productivity.
6. Work smarter
Make use of the technology around you. There is an increasing amount of smart phone apps, and various software and desktop applications that aim to maximise people's productivity, so use them to your benefit. If you need some recommendations, I've previously talked about my top 11 must-have time management tools and apps on the blog, including some of the best to-do list manager and time tracking applications available.
7. Take regular breaks
Although taking a break might feel a bit counter-productive when you're swamped with work, it's crucial for a productive workday and for managing your workload.
You might think that, by not taking a break from work, you'll be able to get through your to-do list more quickly, but this is not always the case. Tight deadlines and long hours of work will affect your mental capacity and performance, and you'll find it more and more difficult to focus on the task at hand.
Taking small amounts of time out from your work will help you recharge your batteries and sharpen your focus, allowing you to become more productive and tackle your to-do list much more effectively.
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