Overworking is not sustainable, and these 4 steps will help you become proactive in dealing with stress

Arina Katrycheva
42271021 - stressed woman working at laptop in home office

Remember: More input doesn’t necessarily mean more output

Nearly everyone is complaining about having too much to do at work nowadays. The reasons may vary from ambitions and overcommitting to just being unable to say no to extra work. But the result is always the same: You end up at risk of not managing to do everything you had planned.

Experts say that overworking is not sustainable in the long term for both the employer and the employee. Its consequences range from simple tiredness to exhaustion and emotional burnout. So what can be done if you feel overworked?

1. Talk to your boss about your overwork

Easier said than done. None of us wantS to be considered a “no” person or “not a team player”. That’s why talking to boss and admitting that the workload is too heavy is difficult even for the most hard-working employees.

However, if you are overwhelmed, it’s best to let your manager know. It doesn’t mean that you are lazy or uncommitted. A reasonable manager would appreciate your honesty and ability to adequately assess your personal resources. Being honest and giving a heads-up as early as possible is essential for achieving the desired changes.

Also read: Working from home makes me more productive, and I want to do it forever

A good way to let your boss know that you have too much on your plate is to come to them with actual solutions. Suggesting ways to optimise the workflow or redistribute workload shows initiative and responsibility. Speaking up when you feel you’re not handling the workload well is not about being lazy and difficult to work with, it’s about preventing your team from missing important deadlines and goals.

2. Focus on small tasks

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If there’s no way to reduce the workload and you’re feeling anxious about it, it might be a good idea not to concentrate on the big picture. Instead, focus on what’s right in front of you, doing work in chunks of smaller tasks – and your anxiety will gradually fade.

When you’re not confident in your own abilities, start anyway. Our negative thoughts are our worst enemy. They keep us from achieving more and contribute to our lack of confidence. Learn to ignore them and just get to work.

3. Learn to say “no” to extra work

No matter how hard-working we think we are, taking on every task available doesn’t mean being successful. Quite the opposite, in fact. And sometimes saying no is just as vital for the long-term progress of both your team and yourself. As questionable as it may sound, doing more does not always equal working better. Go ahead and ask yourself which one makes you feel better: accomplishing fewer tasks, but doing it really well; or wading through a massive list of assignments and ending up with below average results?

Don’t be a perfectionist. Many of us tend to judge ourselves too harshly, but perfectionism and our attempts to be as good as we “should” be only serve to work against us, leading to negative thoughts, low self-esteem, and disappointment. You can be good enough without the extra work and being always busy.

Also read: How to deal with stress: 8 practical tips for entrepreneurs

And sure, sometimes overworking can feel really rewarding. When we have a lot to do, we feel we’re needed, irreplaceable, in demand. However, the usual end result is stress and exhaustion. To prevent this, we need to learn to evaluate our capacity and know exactly how much work we can handle.

4. Manage your tasks efficiently

When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed often, taking a look at what takes up most of your work time can be extremely valuable. One of the most efficient ways to do that is to visualise your tasks and record the time that you spend on them. And timesheet software can help you do just that: see where your time goes, analyse the big picture, and see where you can (and should) improve.

Normally, a quick glance at the results of your time-track is enough to tell what work assignments consume most of your time. Think on the ways to increase your efficiency at work. Seek support from your team. Think of delegating part of your work to your colleagues or redistributing it. Optimise your work process so that routine actions take less time, and set priorities so that the most important to-dos get done first.

Also read: 3 ways effective employee engagement can cut attrition and boost productivity

Summary

Saying no to extra work and delegating part of your current responsibilities to your colleagues doesn’t paint you as not committed or unproductive. Remember: More input doesn’t necessarily mean more output. And if you do have a lot of work to do and it makes you feel anxious, just start anyway. Taking that first step will help you go the entire distance.

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