So, you’ve hit the workload overwhelm wall. You were busy plodding along, minding your own business, convincing yourself that adding one or two more tasks to your to-do list won’t hurt. How much difference can it make, right?
And then, BAM. You’re suddenly paralysed by an unachievable to-do list, looming deadlines, and the pressure to get everything done right now.
Now, when you reach this stage, it’s common to think you just need to plough through and get it done. What else are you going to do? If you don’t do the work, no one will! Right? Wrong.
Now is the perfect time to step back, re-evaluate your workload and make some changes so that you can make it through your working week without getting crushed by the pressure of a to-do list that Just. Won’t. End.
If you’ve found yourself in this situation, sit down, grab a coffee, and take some time to work through the following steps.
Combat a Workload that Feels Overwhelming
1. Accept the inevitable
One of the hardest things to do when managing an overwhelming workload is to accept the inevitable – you can’t do it all. And you won’t be able to, no matter how much you push yourself.
It doesn’t mean you’re not trying, or that you’re not good at your job or running your business. It simply means you’re human. Constantly adding tasks to your already full to-do list is the equivalent of setting yourself up for failure – it’s impossible to get them all ticked off, which in turn leads to feelings of disappointment and demotivation.
What you need to remember is – that’s fine! Accept that you’re doing your best and that actually, there’s no reason for you to be doing all that work yourself.
Once you’ve accepted that notion, you’ll open up your mind to looking at other solutions to managing a workload that is simply unmanageable.
Take a deep breath. Accept it. Move on to step two.
2. Prioritise your tasks
One of the things that can make a workload feel even more overwhelming than it actually is is feeling like all your tasks need your urgent attention right now.
You need to have that meeting, but you also need to send that email. You need to sort that invoice, but you also need to return that call. When you’re being pulled in a million different directions, you’ll struggle to focus on the task at hand and, in the end, nothing productive will come of it.
Instead, it’s vital that you focus on prioritising your tasks before diving straight in.
First, decide on the tasks that absolutely cannot wait. If you’ve got a looming deadline that could impact your business negatively if not met, get started on that. It’s a priority and can’t wait.
Next, decide on the tasks that actually don’t need your attention at all. Those papers you’ve been meaning to shred will wait – they’ll still be there when you’ve got a minute spare, and there are no scary deadlines attached to them that might impact your business if they’re left un-shredded for one more day. Cross it off your list and put it out of your mind.
At this point, your mind should be a bit clearer. Now you can sort out those tasks in the middle – the ones that are important but not absolutely urgent. Rank them in order of importance and urgency, and then work through them accordingly when your most urgent tasks are complete.
Not only does this prioritisation system help you organise your workload, but it also helps you to organise your thoughts. It gives you clarity and a sense of calm knowing that everything is under control, no deadlines are being missed, and you can give each task the attention it needs without thinking about ten other tasks at the same time.
Make that list, get prioritising, and you’ll feel all the better for it.
3. Manage your Time
Time is a slippery little sucker (name that film!). Just when you think you’ve got a good grasp on it, it slips through your hands and suddenly it’s the end of the day and you still haven’t started on that task you’ve been meaning to start for the last week.
When this happens, your workload can start to feel all the more overwhelming, especially if you feel like you’re not making as much progress as you should in the time that you’ve got.
One way to combat this is to work in timed blocks. If you’ve got a lengthy admin task to do, block yourself off two hours on your schedule to get it done. This will allow you to give it your full focus for a set amount of time, and you’ll have one eye on the clock to ensure time doesn’t run away with you again.
Once the two hours are up, move on. You’ll have made good headway and can now move on to another task that needs your attention. You can always schedule another block to complete if needed.
The trick here is to always schedule yourself in more time than you’ll need. That way, you can gain some of that time back if you finish the task early which can then be put to good use for something else.
This eliminates the feeling of having to rush, and makes you feel far more motivated when you do complete a task ahead of time rather than trying to squeeze bits of it in here and there.
Take some time to assess how long important tasks will take you and block off those hours in your schedule for a calmer, more controlled working day.
4. Delegate to your team
One thing we tend to forget when we have a specific role at work is that there are actually other people who may be able to help you out.
Utilise the team around you if you feel like your personal workload is overwhelming. If you need to proofread a document and don’t have time, ask your team if anyone has ten minutes spare to do it for you. You’ll be surprised at how many people volunteer!
Running a business is one hundred percent a team effort, and you’re allowed to rely on the team around you for support when things get tough.
If you’re struggling, ask!
5. Delegate to an outsource professional
If you’re sat there thinking, ‘erm, what team?’ you’re likely running your business solo, which, in itself, is a huge achievement!
But you, more than anyone, will likely feel the pressures of workload overwhelm you. You are quite literally doing it all. But you don’t have to.
If you’re not yet at the stage where you feel you can start building your team, outsourcing work to professionals is a great option. And the good news is, you can outsource as much or as little as you want.
If you’re happy running your business but feel bogged down by all the admin that comes with it, you could literally just outsource some admin bits to take the pressure off. If you’re great at the admin side of things but struggle to find time for marketing, you could outsource the creation of your social media posts.
For solo business owners, workload overwhelm can lead to feelings of demotivation and is one of the reasons why businesses fail. But trust us, it doesn’t have to be that way.
If your workload feels top-heavy, consider getting in touch with a Virtual Assistant or other outsourcing professional – it really can make a huge difference and could be the reason why your business succeeds.
Take Control of your Workload
You can be busy at work without being overwhelmed by your workload. If you’re feeling swamped, there are plenty of things you can do to balance it out a bit and take some of that pressure off. Start by trying out some of the steps above – they could make all the difference.
And, if you’re interested in chatting further about the benefits of outsourcing to Virtual Assistants, please do not hesitate to get in touch.