Prioritization is key to staying on top of a hefty workload – but what’s the procedure when everything’s priority number one?
Whether you’re a marketing specialist spreading yourself thin across a number of diverse projects or an employee at a tech startup working tirelessly on a complex and colossal project, the anxiety caused by an unwieldy workload isn’t conducive to a productive working environment – and more importantly, it isn’t good for your health.
Here are 5 tips on how to manage your workload and avoid burnout.
Delegate where you can
Responsibility is an undeniably empowering thing but, when you shoulder too much of it, you can create an oppressive working environment for yourself – which could even lead to a professional fall from grace. You may be accountable for the completion of a task, but it may not need to be you who gets the job done – so examine your workload and identify logical opportunities to delegate bits and pieces to someone else on your team. As long as they have the time and the necessary skill set to do the job in question, you can outsource one item on your agenda with a clear conscience and confidence in a quality outcome.
Plan your day strategically
Meticulous planning is key in any demanding job role – and while micromanaging isn’t generally advised, there are some advantages to planning your working day to perfection. If you tend to find that you’re most attuned to certain types of job at certain times of the day, use this knowledge to organise your itinerary for best results. For example, you may prefer to tackle more complex or challenging work in the morning, leaving basic administrative tasks for later in the day – or vice versa. Also consider grouping related tasks together – whether they’re related by topic, skills required or the software or equipment you’ll need to use – so that you can stay ‘in the zone’ as you move relatively seamlessly from one job to the next.
Manage your time with care
On top of taking a strategic approach to planning your day, the same keen eye can be applied to how you manage your time on a daily basis. Taking set, non-negotiable breaks can have a powerful impact on productivity – helping you to avoid a motivation outage as a result of tiredness or stress – and treating yourself to the occasional coffee and plenty of water is always wise. Other than that, the key is to identify and eliminate wasted time – whether that’s time spent checking emails throughout the day or attending unnecessary meetings. Set a fixed time window for looking at your emails in the morning, don’t RSVP to anything avoidable and convert wasted time into welcome breathing room.
Never, ever multitask
Particularly busy workers are often tempted to chip away at a series of jobs simultaneously – bit by bit – but the dangers of multitasking are numerous, and chances are this approach will be counterproductive in the end. In the words of Guy Winch, PHD, author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries, our brains are “like a pie chart, and whatever we’re working on is going to take up the majority of the pie”. Switching between a number of tasks kills productivity, as our brains are forced to focus on the act of changing gears rather than each of the jobs at hand.
Escalate the issue
It may sound easier said than done, but it’s vital to remember that you can’t achieve the impossible, and you should do what you can to avoid overburdening yourself at all costs. If you’re really feeling the weight of your heavy workload, sit down with your manager or employer to let them know you’re struggling – or present a workable solution to them, if you have something in mind. Until you speak up, your struggle may go entirely unnoticed – and by refusing to bury your head, you can work with your superior to find a solution that serves everyone.
By taking matters into your own hands, you can say no to lost lunch breaks and late finishes and turn your professional stresses into a practical, streamlined and entirely realistic to-do list.
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