How to Overcome Overwhelm at Work
Summer is finally here, bringing with it dreams of vacation time at the beach, moments of relaxation, and even the occasional work review.
For ambitious professionals, summer is more than just a great time to work on your tan, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on what you’ve accomplished so far in your professional journey. By looking back at the past, we can begin to consider the things that we might need to change, as we set our sights on an even more successful future.
Whether you love your job, or you’re currently searching for a new role, one of the most common issues professionals face today, is the threat of overwhelm at work. A job can be a stressful thing, compounded by deadlines, personal pressures, and a range of other challenges. However, rather than just forcing yourself to keep pushing forward, now could be the ideal time to stop, think, and decide how you can overcome overwhelm for good.
Step 1: Figure out why you’re overwhelmed
It’s hard to create a strategy for overcoming overwhelm, if you don’t know what’s causing your discomfort. Sometimes, work overwhelm is caused by something as simple as having too much on your plate. Maybe you’ve been saddled with more opportunities than you can handle, or your boss is constantly reminding you not to mess up. On the other hand, maybe you’re placing too much pressure on yourself, and applying unnecessary stress.
Figuring out what’s causing your overwhelm is the first step to fixing the problem. If your boss is giving you too much work, then you’ll need to talk to them about it. On the other hand, if your time management skills are letting you down, or you’re over-loading yourself, then it’s up to you to make some changes.
Step 2: Plan to banish overwhelm
One of the biggest contributors to becoming overwhelmed at work, is a lack of good time management. Often, it can feel as though there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. Instead of staring at a pile of work and feeling your anxiety levels rise, it’s important to sit down, take stock of the tasks ahead, and create a plan of action.
Though using what little time you have to plan might seem counterproductive, it can actually make your day much more efficient. Start by writing down a list of the things that you need to do in any given day, and if there’s too much prioritise. Decide which tasks you can move to tomorrow, or delegate to someone else. It is possible to put the brakes on less-essential tasks, or even ask for help. Understanding how to prioritise your work day is one of the simplest ways to tackle overwhelm.
Step 3: Communicate your concerns
Your boss, co-workers, or team leader can’t help with your feelings of being overwhelmed, if they don’t know what you’re experiencing. That means that if you feel like your workload is too much to handle, or you don’t feel confident completing a specific task, you’re going to need to reach out and communicate with the right people.
Speaking to your boss about your concerns can seem daunting, but plan what you’re going to say, and remember that your health is important to your boss. After all, a team member having a nervous breakdown isn’t going to be very productive.
If speaking to your boss isn’t an option, then you might consider reaching out to members of your team for additional help. After all, you’re not the only one responsible for keeping the business running.
Don’t get stuck on a path of self-reliance that leads to self-destruction. Understand how to recognise when you need help, then ask for it. If you can’t access the assistance you need anywhere, and you’ve exhausted all your options, it might be time to start exploring new opportunities.
Having a conversation with a specialist recruitment agency could be a good place to discover what
is happening in the building services and what roles are available.
Step 4: Take a break and look after yourself
When you feel overwhelmed at work, it can be easy for your brain to go into full-on survival mode. During this time, you might start multi-tasking more often, rushing through different projects, and making more mistakes. Stress restricts our ability to be creative, and distorts our perception of time, so we constantly feel like we’re facing impending doom.
No matter how tempting it is to keep pushing forward through the panic, sometimes the best thing you can do is take a break and just breathe for a moment. Take a walk around your office, or head outside for a breath of fresh air. The brain thrives on rest. We weren’t designed to work at full-speed 24/7. Give yourself a break.
Step 5: Know when to say no
For many employees, the very idea of saying “no” to their boss can fill them with a sense of dread. However, a good team leader would rather have their team members tell them when they can’t get something done, than end up with a sub-par piece of work that needs to be taken back to the drawing board.
If you’re concerned that you don’t have the skills for a project, you need more help, or you simply can’t take on any more work, then say so.
Pushing back can be tough, but if you keep saying yes to new projects, no matter how overwhelmed you get, you could end up working yourself into the ground. An unhealthy, unproductive, and stressed out employee is no good to anyone.