3 Ways to Cope with an Overwhelming Workload

TSP • @myTSPnet


We’ve all had those days, weeks and months when we feel like we can’t catch up with our work and deadlines. The to-do list seems never-ending, and the hours in the day feel shorter. Right when you begin to think you finally checked everything off your list, you find a new list of tasks waiting for you.  

When workloads become too much to bear, we tend to freeze or meltdown. In a time when we need to be ultra-productive, our panic can hinder our ability to perform to our highest potential. Before reading any further, take a moment to breathe. Our to-do lists are not going away, but we can do our best to manage them. Continue reading for a few tactics you can adopt to conquer the workload and produce your best work when you’re overwhelmed.

Distractions are everywhere. Though we can never fully eliminate every distraction, we can do our best to minimize them. One of the greatest hindrances to productivity is the very thing we need to work — technology. As crucial as technology is in today’s work environment, boundaries for technology in the workplace are necessary.

If your work requires technology, only keep your current work to be open in your tabs. Turn off any notifications and sounds that may distract you. There’s always going to be an email to acknowledge and a text awaiting a reply, but none of our current work is going to get done if we are constantly sharing our focus with outside distractions.

Another distraction to be aware of is your physical environment. If you know you can’t focus with background noise, be intentional about seeking a quiet and private workspace. If solitude isn’t an option, try using earplugs or headphones to cut out the noise.

Working from home offers more distractions than we are used to in our offices. Between kids, barking dogs, the delivery man, the TV and the comfy couch calling your name, you may feel like you cannot escape. Try creating a designated working zone in your home as far away from distractions as possible. A peaceful and clean space can make for a smoother workflow.

The first step in tackling your workload is figuring out what the actual work entails. Putting your to-do list to paper (or screen) will help you visualize the work that needs to be completed. Sometimes the list doesn’t feel as daunting once it is out of your head and into writing.

The next step in organizing your work is prioritization. What’s the most important thing on this list? What can wait for tomorrow? What needs to happen now? Procrastinating the work you don’t want to do will only make it worse because it’ll ultimately pile up and leave you more work for a later time.

After establishing your priorities, give yourself deadlines. Setting your own deadlines allows you to minimize procrastination. If your personal deadline is a few days before the given date, you will be more prone to start the project right away and will ultimately avoid unnecessary stress.

Let’s face it, there is always going to be something else to do. No matter how much work you complete, you can always think of something else to add to your plate. If you don’t give yourself time away from work, your work will end up sloppy. Without a break, you will eventually reach burnout.

Something as simple as taking a lunch break can change the trajectory of your workday. It’s unrealistic to think we can give our all at work 100% of the time without taking time away. Work shouldn’t control our entire lives or keep us from what’s important — family, friends, health or our passions.

Make time for the important things in life outside of work. Family and loved ones should not be put on the backburner because of a heavy workload. Whether it’s a phone call, dinner date or an evening walk, time away from work and with a loved one can be rejuvenating and motivating.

When your workload seems unbearable, never let it discount your mental and physical health. If your mind and body are suffering, so will your work. Make time for exercise, meditation and rest. An overwhelming workload can be daunting, but it should never take over your life.