Are you overwhelmed with work? No matter what you do to pay the bills, there are all times we are less than thrilled about our work. I know I’m not the only one that has gone for weeks or months feeling like I’ll never get everything done. No matter where you turn, the list of tasks seems to grow, right?
It’s so frustrating, you dread going into the office. And, darling, you may believe that self-employment is the answer to feeling overwhelmed. I can say from experience, it isn’t. Yep, even those of us who are self-employed are often overwhelmed with work.
And the thing is, even if you understand why you are overwhelmed with work doesn’t ease the pressure. Because, stress in our bodies and mind is still stress. So, whether it is just a labor-intensive project. Or the office is on a tight budget that requires you to take on more than what makes you comfortable. It still feels frustrating and overwhelming.
I like to combat these feelings of overwhelm and stress by turning to logic.
I’ve been a life coach for almost a decade now. But before I was a coach? I specialized in quality assurance and project management. By leaning back on the skills I learned there? It invites me to step out of the emotion and look at the facts. This allows you to take a breath and gain perspective. Especially if your work situation feels like it’s descended into borderline chaos.
Despite not having the specifics about why you are overwhelmed with work, I do have solutions for you.
Although it feels like you’re the only person experiencing this particular stress? I can promise that you aren’t. Your coworkers might be feeling the stress right along with you. And they might express that stress and powerlessness of the situation in a different way than you do. An overall atmosphere of everyone feeling overwhelmed with work causes petty arguments, snappish responses, and less-than-professional behavior.
And even if you are a solopreneur, darling, you are still not alone. There are so many folks out there experiencing feeling overwhelmed with work. So, just know that these tips will work for you equally.
Are you overwhelmed with work? Here are eleven ways to relieve the stress.
One – If you are overwhelmed with work, you must cut out stuff that doesn’t matter.
Take a hard look at everything you have on your plate. Does everything need to be done? For example, if you’ve been the de facto person who buys and passes around the birthday cards, maybe it’s time to ask someone else if they can take over that task for you.
Or if you’ve been going to happy hour on Fridays to commiserate with your coworkers off the clock? Maybe it’s time to take a break from that so you can head home and get a jump-start on getting well-rested during the weekend. Consider, too, that all those networking events take time away from your ability to get stuff done.
Ask yourself these questions: Is there any task that a co-worker can do? Can you delegate a task? Do you need to make a big project a team effort? Are extra-curricular events sucking time from work? Can you defer tasks for later?
It’s hard to give up activities we enjoy. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work you have on your plate, the only way to get some breathing room is to cut some things out.
Besides, cutting out unnecessary tasks will not only ease the stress. You’ll boost your self-confidence by getting important stuff done!
Two – Be honest with yourself. Analyze your time to see what you really are doing all day.
Spend a couple days auditing how you spend your work days. Once an hour, jot down what you’ve been working on the past hour. Or, if you want to dig into more details, notate what you’re doing every fifteen minutes. This will allow you not only to see where you are spending your time. It will also show you some patterns.
If you’re like many folks, you’ll find that you probably aren’t being as efficient as you could be. Where are you waiting time? Where are you spending time on tasks that don’t really move projects forward? What admin tasks, such as email, suck more time than “real” work?
And as to patterns, is there a specific time of day when time management goes off the rails? Is it right before you’re about to take your lunch break? If you’re currently juggling your day job and a passion project away from work, maybe you have a hard time switching gears after you get home from work.
What kind of positive habit loop can you create for yourself that will give you a little downtime between tasks? And mentally prepare you for the next round of working? It can be something as simple as making yourself a cup of tea after you get home from your day job or doing a quick low-impact workout to get your blood jumping and ready to move into the next phase of your day.
And, if you find that you really are hard at work for more than eight hours a day? And, if you are overwhelmed with work and you find that it’s a fact-based thing, not just a feeling? By tracking your time you have written evidence to prove to your boss that to take to your boss if you need it.
Three – Are you overwhelmed with work because you’re getting involved in office drama?
I know it sounds easier said then done. But darling you must choose to not get worked up by drama. No job or work environment is perfect, no matter how many perks your company offers you onsite. Take the break room for example. It’s great being able to get a free cup of coffee that – hey – is actually pretty good. But you are still surrounded by imperfect people. All who have their own hang-ups and issues.
And some of those people might choose to deal with their problems by creating more problems for everyone else at work. You know the ones. The energy vampires and the drama queens. I’m not telling you to not feel annoyed by the ill will that is going around. What I’m urging you to do is to make the conscious choice not to indulge in any of the complaining and gossip.
If you are overwhelmed with work, as a feeling more than a fact, it could be because you are getting swept up in the intrigue of office drama. That environment is adding to feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.
Try to stay focused on the task at hand. Offer your support to coworkers when you feel it is appropriate. But make it a personal rule to stay out of the fray of the problems going around. It will only breed more drama.
Four – Speaking of environment, are you overwhelmed with work because your office is a hot mess?
It’s hard to be efficient with work when your desk is a hot mess. If you’re constantly searching for that paper or that file you were given on a project? You are wasting valuable time. And energy.
Just like clutter at home distracts you from loving your life, clutter at work can distract you from what’s important. And yes, even if you get your work done and see a cluttered desk as being a “creative genius”? A tidy desk with a real filing system can help make you more productive.
Five – Choose to make planning a part of your professional life.
Choosing to plan will make not just your personal life better. It will help you professionally, too! When it comes to larger projects, you know it’s important to break everything down into manageable tasks. And those milestone tasks need a deadline, too. Consider, too, breaking your work day down into blocks. When you have time set aside to do email daily, you don’t check it all day for an example.
You may also find it helpful to have deadlines for those daily tasks. Be sure to build in opportunities for unexpected but necessary tasks you might be asked to take care of in the moment. Yes, protect your work time. But as part of planning our days, be open to the unexpected. Or emergencies.
Because we can’t and shouldn’t schedule our day to the point that there is no room for exceptions. Oh, and don’t forget to be realistic about work hours. Be sure to schedule in your own breaks throughout the day so you can stretch, get some water, and refill your coffee cup.
Remember that when you plan, you can execute better.
Six – Are you overwhelmed with work because social media is distracting you?
Let me say it very plainly: no matter how vital social media is to your business, line of work, or your personal life? You cannot allow social media to distract you. Especially to the point that you are only prolonging the misery and panic you are going to feel when you look at the time and realize you have a lot less time to meet your deadlines than you originally thought.
Scrolling through your social media feeds is also an unhealthy way to numb. Sure it feels like a great way to avoid a task you don’t want to do. But maybe you are overwhelmed with work because you’re procrastinating. Undone tasks and deadlines don’t go away because we don’t want to do them!
If you are overwhelmed with work, choosing to cut back on social media can help you hone your focus.
By the way, if you have a side-gig. Or are self employed? Don’t be on social media all the time by using the excuse that you are building your business. Or increasing your following. Or doing research as a way to distract you from what’s really important. Yes, you may need to do some social media for your biz. But you can’t spend all your time there.
And, let’s be honest, sometimes we are overwhelmed with work as entrepreneurs because we compare our business to others. And by doing so, sometimes we create work loads that don’t fit our unique business style.
The truth is that if you’re not setting boundaries with your social media use, you are just wasting your time.
Seven – If you are overwhelmed with work, recognize when it’s simply a season of life
There are some periods of time that are just tougher based on your profession. Like end of year for teachers. And tax season for accountants. Once the crazy season is over, things will naturally calm down. Or a time of year, like the holidays if you’re in retail or customer service.
Be realistic if you are overwhelmed with work because of a season.
Yes, darling, this time of craziness at work will one day pass. Try to hold that close to your heart when you are feeling overwhelmed with work. And when you realize the end is in sight, plan a special treat for yourself. A reward or thank you for working so hard while you were so stressed out. (This doesn’t have to be lavish, you could treat yourself to a nice lunch or a manicure one afternoon.)
Eight – Consider hiring some help if you’re overwhelmed with work.
If you are running your own business, it might be time that you have grown so much that you need to hire someone to help you. It might seem a little overwhelming or daunting. But this is a good thing, and congratulations on all your hard work.
Or maybe there is another small business owner you know who is struggling with a task you love to do, and you are struggling with something they excel at. Maybe the two of you can meet up and see how you can help and support each other. A mutual relationship to help each other!
You can even hire someone to help you on one specific project. For example, can someone else do some social media? Format your blog posts? Could that ease the pressure and the stress?
Note that if you aren’t self-employed, this still may be a solution. If you are in the midst of a large project at work? Maybe another department can loan you a person. Even part time. That can help ease the pressure. Sell this to managers by touting “cross-training”!
Nine – Maybe you need to revisit your goals. Or learn how to set better goals.
When’s the last time you evaluated your goals? By checking on the progress of both long- and short-term goals, you may pinpoint what’s causing you to feel overwhelmed with work. Do you feel as if you’re moving forward on your goals? Are your goals still in line with your current vision and trajectory in life? If they don’t feel like they are, it might be time to fix that.
If your goals align with your values and mission, it will give you the freedom to say no to the things that won’t be bringing you closer to your goals for yourself without the guilt.
And, if they don’t? Maybe it’s time to revisit your goals. You may need to shift how you go about setting those goals, too. Though they sound “Type A”, consider setting “SMART” goals. It’s also imperative that you gain better clarity on goals that really matter.
Ten – If you’re anxiety is at an all-time high at work, talk to your boss.
A good boss will listen to your concerns with your job. Especially if you come well-armed to your meeting. Come with potential solutions after going through these options. Share with your boss the evaluation of how you spend your time. Detail the ways in which a co-worker might get cross-trained by helping on a big project.
If responsibilities that go beyond what the original definition of your role at work have started to pile up? It’s probably time to re-evaluate and redefine your role at work. Maybe your boss has the power to give your role a new name so they can hire someone to take on your original position.
It’s possible your boss can see where you need to have some additional help. And, of course, your boss can decide what isn’t really a priority. Maybe they don’t or won’t ease your workload.
This is a good time to establish boundaries and stop saying yes to things that don’t fit your skill set. And what you can reasonably handle on a daily basis.
Eleven – Last but not least, if you are overwhelmed with work, it might be time to change jobs.
If, despite working through this list you still feel stressed, the worst-case scenario is that you find a way out. Sometimes, the only answer to “Are you overwhelmed with work?” is “YES!” With no real relief in sight.
Then, darling, it’s time to start job hunting.
You, my dear, deserve to do work that respects the gifts you bring. And if you are self-employed? And that boss is you? It is not being a quitter if you determine that entrepreneurship is not for you. Working from home is not the glamourous picnic you’ve been told.
I am the first to admit that you should never settle for less than you desire.
And wanting to achieve things means that there will be times when work – and life – feels overwhelming.
While feeling overwhelmed with work can feel challenging, it doesn’t have to be a permanent state of being for you. And, honestly, gaining some perspective and understanding that you can have what you want. You just might be able to have “it all” can be frustrating.
Sure, you can’t simply snap your fingers and make it all go away, but you can still work towards making sure you can slowly reduce the stress you are feeling. That way you can get back to what made you go into this kind of work in the first place.
Besides, life is too short to spend your working hours feeling stressed out. You, my darling, deserve to live a life you love. And your work life is a big part of enjoying your life.
Are you overwhelmed with work? Coaching may help you figure out the best solution.
Would you like to explore the options by talking to someone that’s been there? Are you seeking practical advice? Someone to talk through potential pitfalls and solutions? Do you desperately need support around your crazy-busy life?
Drop me an email at: debra AT debrasmouse.com and we’ll schedule a call to see if we’re a good fit.