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8 effective ways to handle an increased workload
The more immersed in your role you become, the more tasks and projects you end up taking on. In theory, at least, that’s how you pick up the experience to get promoted, then hand off lower-level assignments to others.
But it doesn’t always work that way in practice. Many companies are still trying to squeeze more out of fewer employees, in what some experts see as a symptom of the lingering economic hangover from the last financial crisis.
Whatever their cause, mounting workloads are a fact of life for many of us, and keeping them in check can be a constant struggle.
As much as is possible, take control of the situation. Don’t allow people to keep piling the work on top of you if you know you’re drowning. It’s not fair to them or you. Get comfortable saying “no” and setting more realistic expectations. This is a bigger topic we’ll save for another day, but just recognize that you don’t have endless capacity. If you continue accepting work when you’re already overwhelmed, something’s going to give.
Stop looking at the big picture and just take it one baby-step at a time. What’s the next action you can take to move this task or project forward? That’s the thing to focus on. If you’re looking at your master task and project list all day every day, it’s time to change your routine.
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 and use this time to do the most important or challenging tasks and then, complete the easier tasks when you find it more difficult to concentrate.
Once you have listed your tasks, set priorities based on the information you already have. According to priority, have a pipeline of your projects completed one by one, within the deadlines and other constraints. Re-order with your feasible but viable timelines.
Process tasks effectively
Evaluate how you’re actually “doing” your work. Are you as efficient as you could be (while still maintaining quality, of course)? Perhaps you’re bouncing around from one thing to another, wasting time as you refocus. Perhaps you’re backtracking quite a bit, going to the copier dozens of times a day instead of doing all your copying at once. Maybe you’re dealing with too many interruptions and distractions.
Set up a mental box around yourself during each session. Nothing else should interfere, unless of course, there are emergencies. Concentrate and work like a person on mission. Everything else can wait.
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 better than saying yes and not getting the job done well.
Ask for help
If you’re unable to meet a deadline, speak with your manager or key stakeholders in the project to see if you can obtain more time to perform your task well. It is better to do everything to the best of your ability than to complete a task quickly and to an insufficient standard. You can also ask for an external help from an expert to release your stress and be more focused and productive at work.