By Catherine Adenle
The tips highlighted in how to deal with a heavy workload in form of an Infographic as shown below might not be suitable for every heavy workload situation, but if applied properly, they will surely help you to deal with and alleviate some of the stress created at work by your heavy workload.
At work, always remember that your role exists for a reason and this will ultimately be determined by the strategy of the team that you belong to. This strategy is often expressed in a vision and in the mission statement. Consequently, you should help the organization achieve its vision. If you think this is not the case in your situation, you need to ask yourself how secure your role is in the organisation you belong to.
To help you deal with a heavy workload, you have to understand and perform the tasks that are strategy driven well and do them to deadline. The tasks that add value to the team, the company or the organisation are the tasks that you should always strive to complete first. That is why prioritisation of your work is vital.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of daily tasks or deadlines that spins the wheel at work but are not really adding any value.
“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is what are we busy about?”
– Henry David Thoreau
Compile a list of your tasks with allocated deadlines. Look and decide which ones you can complete independently and the ones you need help with?
Separate the tasks based on:
Preparing a list of these tasks based on these six things will help you to easily derive solutions that will help you to deal with a heavy workload.
We all have different ways of working, and different styles and times when we are most productive. Think about:
– When you tend to work best, is it first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon? Use this time to do the most important, value adding or challenging tasks
– Then, complete the easier tasks when you find it more difficult to concentrate at work.
Doing this will help you to demonstrate great result where it matters, prioritise better and easily deal with a heavy workload.
If you feel that you are struggling with how to deal with a heavy workload and also stay on top of your work, it may help to share your concerns with your manager or supervisor.
It’s essential to let your manager know if your workload exceeds your capabilities. You never know, there may be an opportunity for overtime or the possibility of hiring a temporary staff to help overcome the backlog.
Politely ask your manager for a work in progress meeting to communicate your workload and assure him that you are capable of handling all the projects but he has to look at shifting some of the deadlines for you and also clarify on your list what is absolutely important to focus on first.
While you discuss with your manager, avoid using the word, ‘can’t’, but instead, say, ‘I can get all the work done but I need to you to give me more time on few of the projects,’ or prioritise your tasks on a notepad adding your own timelines, show your manager and ask, ‘Would you mind at all if I do these tasks in this order and to these timelines? Politely add, ‘Following this order, I will do a very good job and meet the set deadlines’. If your manager agrees, be sure to exceed his/her expectations by your deliverables.
Another major tip of how to deal with a heavy workload is to think of breaking your day into chunks of two or three hours. Take regular breaks after each chunk. First thing in the morning, begin your day with a plan and assign tasks to each session.
Another tip on how to deal with a heavy workload is to check that you have the support, resources, and the training that you need to do an excellent job of your allocated tasks. Networking will help you to have a support group. Check with colleagues to see if they also experience an overwhelming workload and talk about possible reasons. If not, once you have listed your tasks and set priorities based on the information you already have, according to priority, see if there are few colleagues who are able to help with any of the tasks you have in your job pipeline. Politely ask them and re-order the tasks if not feasible but still focus on your timelines.
One of the best way to deal with a heavy workload at work is to say ‘no’ to what is not adding any value and be able to justify why. Do your homework and find where the job can go or derive a smarter way to complete the job. It is okay to say no sometimes. Agreed, it can be difficult in some situations, but saying “no” is sometimes the only way to manage a heavy workload. However, be mindful not to say no to important tasks and not say no all the time, but saying no when you genuinely feel and think you cannot do something is advised.
Learning how to deal with a heavy workload begins with setting a limit! As much as it is possible, take control of the situation. Don’t allow people to keep piling work on top of you if you know you’re drowning. Smile and get real comfortable and say a firm “no”.
Learning how to deal with a heavy workload involves working smarter to meet business goals by:
• Reducing low value work
•Assessing the fit between job requirements, company’s goals, team’s goals and other needs
• Regularly examine the tasks that you perform and distinguish between the important and the disposable ones
• Assessing the zenith fit between your work and personal life
• Setting firm boundaries between work and non-work time
• Checking that you are treated with fairness
• Making your manager rethink workflow and division of work.
• Asking colleagues for help
• Making adjustments that will ease workload pressure without significant problems
• Taking vacations and sick time off if needed
• Minimize interruptions and distractions
• Take care of your health – exercise, eat healthy, sleep
( Adapted from Katcher, 2003, as cited in Bates, 2003; Galinsky et al., 2005; Maslach & Murphy, 2005, as cited in Halpern & Murphy, 2005)
Not only can a heavy workload be tiring, it will drive you to work for longer hours than you would really like. Worse than this, a very heavy habitual workload leaves you little time to deal with emergencies that come up unexpectedly. This adds to the feeling of being out of control which could be stressful. Stress can lead to a number of health problems. Consequently, it is vital that you know how to deal with a heavy workload at work.
Do you have anything to add to the tips covered in the Infographic on how to deal with a heavy workload? Let’s hear from you. Add your comments below.