Clocking in over eight hours at work, multi-tasking, working round the clock is the new norm. As a result, there are times when we feel completely overwhelmed and start dreading the idea of being at work every Monday morning. Eventually, we end up feeling trapped and confused about the situation. This feeling can result in forgetfulness, mental slowness, difficulty in logical thinking, in concentration, making us more prone to distractions and affecting our work efficiency. However, there are ways to deal with this constant feeling of being overwhelmed at work and they are easy to follow.
What is the source?
Start with figuring out the real reason for this feeling. Maybe there are one or two things that are the primary cause of it. Ask yourself what these are and if taking them off your head would alleviate the feeling. Get to the source of the stressor; if it’s a big assignment, complete it at the earliest. If the size of the assignment overwhelms you, then break down the tasks into smaller ones that you can easily manage. You can even request additional resources or rework your deadline.
Plan, plan, plan
Setting up a proper plan of action is very effective in getting a task done. In fact, it will help in planning the rest of your working time in a more efficient manner. Simply jotting down the order in which you would handle the assignment is quite helpful as it helps you from thinking about the task all the time. So, put down everything you have on your mind on paper and prioritise each one. This will help you focus on one thing rather than jumping from task to task.
List out what you’re ‘not’ going to do
This may seem the opposite of what’s mentioned above, but trust us, listing out what you’re not going to do helps. You get clarity on the tasks you would tackle first and list down as priority while sifting through and putting less important tasks on the back-burner. Listing down what you would not be doing works well when there are too many ideas running through your mind making you feel guilty and anxious.
Setting boundaries helps
In our heads we all think we are capable of doing everything in one day, however, often, these spill over to the next day. As a result, we end up working long hours to complete the tasks decided for the day; and end up feeling overwhelmed. So, set boundaries on your time and adopt the method of ‘time boxing’. Simply put, this means allotting a fixed time for certain tasks and sticking to your timeframe. This also includes allotting time for calls, breaks, even the time you wrap up work. Make your colleagues aware of this and they will start respecting your time.
Let your mind wander
Research has shown that you come up with brilliant ideas when you are not trying to be creative on purpose. It puts things in perspective, right? So, take a break and let your thoughts wander. Indulge in some mindless activity such as getting photocopies or tidying your desk. Or, simply stroll out of the office for a bit and leave your work-related thoughts behind. When you cut away from work for a while, you can see the big picture and the way ahead, which often does not happen when you’re constantly thinking of issues.
Apply the Parkinson’s Law
Once you’ve made a list of your daily tasks, you’ll discover that some will take only five or 10 minutes while others take longer. Form your own estimate about the time you will take to complete them. Now, apply the Parkinson’s Law, which states, ‘work expands to fill the time available for its completion’. This means that if you give yourself four hours to finish an hour-long task, you will always end up spending more time than you estimated. For example, if you feel you will take 30 minutes to respond to emails, give yourself only 15 minutes to do it. This is because, psychologically speaking, humans are really bad at estimating the time they will take to complete something. Subconsciously we know we have loads of time to complete the task so we while it away in inane activities. A little pressure prevents us from whiling away time and focusing on completing our work. As a result, it helps us stay away from feeling overwhelmed with our workload.
It’s very simple and easy to adapt these steps in our daily lives to prevent that constant feeling of being overwhelmed, making us more efficient and productive at work.
ThinkRight is now available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram