Stress is a normal part of life, and that includes your working life. But when stress becomes overwhelming, it can seriously affect your physical and emotional wellbeing, not to mention your performance and productivity at the office. My job has become tedious. My work load keeps on increasing, and I find myself working long hours to get everything done. How can I take control of the situation and get my life back? It’s not uncommon for job responsibilities to grow over time, especially when economic conditions prevent the hiring of additional help. Instead of adding employees, organizations expect individual employees to take on more and more responsibilities. However, there is a limit to how much one person can do. You must learn to create boundaries, or you will become overwhelmed by the additional work. Here are a few ways you can reduce both your work load and your stress levels.
1. Prioritize. Focus on what’s most important and make sure high priority work gets done first. Also, make sure your priorities are consistent with those of your supervisor.
2. Schedule your day around those priorities. Write down your to-do list and don’t get distracted. If that means not answering your phone or checking emails just once or twice each day, so be it.
3. Learn to say no. There’s a fine line between being a cooperative “team player” and someone who is abused by taking on work that should be done by others or, perhaps, not even at all. Don’t be afraid to say no to projects that are unnecessary or unimportant. Sticking to your priorities and having a well-defined job description can help.
4. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If someone asks you to do an extra assignment, say, “I’d be glad to it if you can get someone else to take the so-and-so project” or “Yes, I’ll take that on, but only if we push back the deadline several weeks.”
5. Dare to delegate. Is there a task that could be done more quickly or efficiently by a coworker? Learning to delegate effectively will help you reduce your workload.
6. Set boundaries (and stick to them) For example, make it a point to never work through lunch or to eat at your desk or take work home over the weekend. Setting boundaries will help you maintain a work/life balance that provides you enjoyment, peace and fulfillment in all aspects of your life.
7. Take advantage of time management training. If your company doesn’t offer it, look online or check out your local library. Learning to manage time more effectively and get more organized will help you get more work done in less time.
8. Get the tools you need to be more efficient. Are there tools or software programs available that can make you more efficient and thereby reduce your workload and stress?
9. Brainstorm with team members. If you’re overworked, chances are your coworkers are feeling in over their heads, too. Take some time to share ideas about how to cope, share the workload or be more efficient. But, stay positive! Don’t let your brainstorming session turn into a woe-is-me pity party.
10. Ask for help. If you’re feeling stressed or depressed about your workload then you owe it to yourself and your supervisor to voice your concerns. Don’t suffer in silence and let the pressure affect your work performance and relationships with those you care about at home. If your boss isn’t receptive, look for a mentor, colleague or trusted friend who can serve as a sounding board and help you find solutions.
Not only can a heavy workload be tiring, it often drives you to work for longer hours than you would really like. This means that you spend the time that you would prefer to use for the things that you enjoy doing or gives life value working to you. It also means that you are working when you should really be resting. 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.
How can you deal with your heavy workload and also be innovative and take the initiative to do some value adding projects? While there is no snappy magic to reduce your workload, the simple steps and tips below are some of the best ways to manage a heavy workload. They might not all be suitable for every situation, but if applied properly, they may help to alleviate some of the stress created by your heavy workload. The pressures and demands of work may seem overwhelming, but changing your attitude, learning to say no, and negotiating with management and coworkers to decrease your workload will make a tremendous difference. As your life/work balance improves, you’ll become more effective, more productive, and more valuable to your team. And instead of feeling trapped, you’ll finally be free to focus on the things that matter most.