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5 Ways to Handle Overwhelm at Work

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5 Ways to Handle Overwhelm at Work


With one year coming to an end, and a new one about to begin now is the perfect time for many of us to evaluate how our year ‘went’. What could we do better or how can we be more productive in a business world where overwhelm is common place?  

Ultimately, no matter which sector you work in, there’s always a chance that at some point you will end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the deliverables required in your role. 

If that’s the case, you may find that you don’t necessarily need to look for a new role, but you do need to think about how you can make a few necessary changes to handle those days when overwhelming creeps in. 

Here are a few strategies to get you started. 

1. Know How to Prioritize



When you’ve got a pile of work on your desk that’s big enough to tower over your computer monitor, it can be impossible to see a situation where you’ll be able to get everything done in time. Telling yourself that you need to get everything done straight away is likely to blow your schedule out of proportion, and send you into a spiral of lost productivity.  

On the other hand, if you can think about what you need to get done today, what needs to be finished by next week, and what you might be able to delegate to another employee, the whole process becomes much easier.  

List tasks according to priority, and remember that even the most significant challenges can be overcome one step at a time.  


2. Don’t Suffer Solo

If no matter how well you organise your day, you can’t get everything done, then you’ll need to speak to your manager. Although admitting that you need a little help can be a daunting prospect, it’s important to remember that your supervisor needs to be aware of your problem if they’re going to be able to fix it.  

Explain the situation as calmly, and professionally as possible. Outline the fact that you’re concerned too much pressure could have an impact on the quality of your work or suggest that spreading your time too thin might lead to more mistakes. If you can help your line manager to see why additional tasks are causing you so many problems, they may be able to take some of the pressure off your shoulders.  


3. Know When to Say No



In today’s competitive professional world, it’s tempting to feel as though you always have something to prove. You want to convince your boss that you’re reliable and worthy of a promotion, so you resolve to take on every task they throw your way – no matter how big it might be. Though this seems like a good idea at first, the truth is that all that extra work quickly piles up.  

Eventually, you might be unable to keep saying “Yes” to everything. Otherwise, your manager might notice the quality of your performance beginning to slip. If you’re starting to feel like your role as the “go-to” person in the office is becoming too much to handle, speak up and let people know.  

The next time someone comes along to offer additional responsibilities, respectfully say “No”, and calmly explain why you don’t have the time for anything new.  


4. Give Yourself a Break

When we feel like we’re taking on too much at work, our brains can sometimes go into “survival mode”, which means that the logical parts of your mind switch off, and your perception of time becomes distorted. In other words, you simply can’t perform at your best anymore.  

While taking a break to go and get some fresh air, or grab a glass of water might seem counterproductive when you’ve got so much left to do, it’s important to remember that your brain needs a break.  

An occasional moment of rest helps you to refresh your mind, and reduce your chances of unwanted mistakes.  


5. Consider Something New



Finally, if no matter what you do, the work keeps piling up, and you can’t get a handle on all the challenges that are coming your way, then it might be time to start looking for a new position elsewhere.  

If a stress-filled job doesn’t make you ill, then it might erode the confidence you have in your abilities, and make it even harder for you to find a company culture you feel comfortable in at a later stage.  

When you’re looking for your new role, start by researching the culture of the business you’re interested in to make sure that you don’t end up in another frustrating situation. You can also ask a couple of tentative questions when speaking to a hiring manager during the interview process.  


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