Even those with the best time-management and organization skills get overwhelmed with their workload from time to time. When you find that your workload is piling up and you have too much to do, it can be easy to let stress take over.
Here are 3 things you can do to manage your competing priorities and make it through the most overwhelming times at work.
1. Prioritize and conquer
When you have competing deadlines and multiple priorities, it’s easy to believe that everything is important, and just try to complete it all. In reality, something must always take precedence over something else, and it’s your job to figure it out. You need to determine which deadlines may be flexible, or where you can buy yourself some extra time.
Take 10 minutes to write down everything you are working on right now, and flag what you need to do right away, and what you can deliver a bit later instead. As long as you give people enough notice that you need extra time, they are usually flexible.
It’s important to remember that your boss doesn’t always have visibility to everything that you’re working on. It’s easy for them to forget that you have more than one thing on your plate. Get clarity from your boss to understand which tasks are true priorities. Where can you submit an outline, a plan, or a draft rather than a final product? Once you have a set of properly prioritized tasks to work with, assign a realistic timeline to each action you need to complete and hold yourself accountable to it.
2. Don’t neglect yourself
Managing your stress levels is essential to getting through tough periods at work. You still need to take care of yourself, and shouldn’t sacrifice on nutrition and fitness by skipping meals or light exercise.
It’s tempting to dive straight into your inbox in the morning without so much as a sip of coffee, but skipping breakfast is a surefire way to have a mid-morning crash and be dealing with low energy all day. Lunch time is important as well, to keep your blood sugar up for the rest of the day, to be social with colleagues and give yourself a quick mental break.
If possible, get out of the office for a few minutes and take a walk around the block. Giving your legs a break from sitting all say is essential to good health, as well as giving your eyes a chance to recover from looking at a computer screen all day. You will return to the office with a better outlook on everything, and feel more mentally prepared to handle your workload.
3. Say no to more work
It’s tough to say no to taking on more work, especially to your boss. But if you’re already operating at maximum capacity it’s not a good idea to add more to your already-full plate.
Serial overachievers find it especially difficult to turn down opportunities to prove themselves, but it’s always better to excel at a few things, than to take on too much and under-deliver. Delivering substandard work, letting down team members, and overstretching your resources will ultimately damage your reputation.
If someone asks you to take on something more at work, politely let them know what you’re working on right now and that you have a few competing deadlines. Tell them that you are very keen to help out as soon as your schedule opens up again.