Since arriving into adulthood, that “too much to do” overwhelmed feeling generally just seems like part of life don’t ya think? Gone are the days when we were kids and got bored during the school holidays. Bored! Ah the things I would do now with my time during a 6 week holiday. “Too much to do” rarely entered my head back in the good old days of youth, in stark comparison to adult life with all it’s planning and chores and trying to find the balance between it all.
The feeling of being overwhelmed is only natural throughout life, and comes and goes depending on what we’ve got going on. Work life can definitely be like this, certain periods in the month or year can be far busier than others, and sometimes it can just be hectic all the time. If that overwhelming feeling of having too much on is doing more coming than going, have a look at the ways I use to create a better balance in the workplace.
Ask for help wherever possible. Whether you have a team or you’re in a managerial position or not, there should always be someone around who’s willing to give you a hand. Just ask. Most people fear the thought of doing this. You’ll find that when you actually do it, people are more than willing to help!
Instead of taking everything on yourself and accepting every job that comes your way, question whether it’s definitely you’re responsibility or not. Can you delegate all or part responsibility to someone else? Consistently thinking in this manner should get you into the habit of always looking for other options where possible, skimming those jobs off your to do list!
2. Get rid of pointless jobs
This is a great one to get into the habit of doing and I use it both at work and in my personal life. Take a look at your list of jobs to do. How many have been sat there stewing for a while? Why? Are you scared to do them? Do you find them boring? Do they involve a risk? Or don’t they seem that important? There’s always a reason we put some jobs off and tackle others first.
Scrutinise your to do list and ask yourself truthfully, are you ever going to do it? If you’re not gona start them, theyve gotta go for your own sanity! Don’t leave those jobs hanging around on the list making you feel worse every time you see them. I’ve done this many many times in the past and now I’ve taught myself to be more cut throat. If I haven’t done anything with a task for three months, it goes. Life’s too short! Focus on jobs that are a priority.
3. Discuss priorities openly with your boss
Often the overwhelmed feeling we experience can be partly due to pressure coming from others; your boss, team, or another work colleague. When this happens, it’s easy to feel stressed and just try to keep up with everyone’s demands on your own. This isn’t a good tactic because the pressure and stress will build and build until you snap or start to feel unwell. Remember – you’re only one person. And people will understand if you’re open and honest with them!
The next time you feel the peer pressure at work, be open and be honest. Explain your current priorities, and if it’s another colleague or team member requesting your time then speak to your boss to plan what your priorities should be. If it’s your boss being demanding then make sure you explain everything you’ve got on and maybe plan a timescale together. When people can see clearly what other jobs you’re trying to juggle too, they’ll certainly be more willing to wait a bit longer or take a different route and pass the work to someone else.
4. Get a whiteboard
It seems so simple but this trick helped me massively! Sometimes when jobs are sprayed around everywhere on post it notes, emails, outlook calendars or in computer files somewhere, everything can start to feel a bit messy and out of control. It did for me anyway. So I asked for a whiteboard to write every job and reminder down all in one place.
If you can, make sure you get a whiteboard positioned in front of you. And organise it as you like. I used to separate mine into daily jobs, weekly jobs and monthly jobs. Now I’ve moved to a different company I use another approach; I write my three main priorities for the day at the top of the board and everything else sits underneath. I find having this constant visual list in front of me is a great reminder of every job and makes me feel more organised and in control.
5. Embrace acceptance
I find this one tough to take. I always feel like someday, one day far far away, that something magical will happen… and I’ll get through all of the jobs on my to do list. How nice would that be! Nothing to do and not a care in the world, nothing to plan or organise, just time to relax. I constantly work hard to get through my jobs in the hope that I might somehow become closer to this point.
The fact is, it’s unrealistic. I’ll never get through my to do lists. Think about that magical situation I’ve just mentioned. Do you think if you got to that point, the end of the to do list, you wouldn’t sit there and think, right, maybe I should plan a holiday? Or what if you realised someone’s birthday was coming up and you needed to organise a present?! The fact is the to do list can’t stop! It would be impossible unless everything else stopped along with it.
The best thing to do when feeling overwhelmed about everything to be done is to accept it. Because that’s life. Accept that you will always have jobs to get done but try not to get stressed about it, and think about how many of us there are out here that feel exactly the same!
What do you do to help tackle that “to do list” when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed?
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