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Last Updated on February 17, 2021

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end. You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver. That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not.

Here are 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload.

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility until we create too much stress at work, which negatively impacts our abilities.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working.” Acknowledge that you can’t do it all, and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader, or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm, and a heavy workload you can’t get through.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively, but who can help deliver this project. Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team Members

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus, and strengths to each project.

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Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  -Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything out.

You can take the time to think about the purpose of the project, the deadline, the desired results, KPIs, and possible challenges.

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables, and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate on your heavy workload.

Getting yourself a planner like the Full Life Planner will help yourself plan ahead and have your everyday life organized better. Check out the planner here and start to plan your projects and tasks effectively.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel that it is in the moment when everything is so time-consuming.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear[1] has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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The Eisenhower Box to prioritize work

    Want to learn more about how to prioritize your tasks and apply it right away? This free workbook Create More Time Out Of a Busy Schedule can help you. Withi this workbook, you’ll be able to evaluate the importance and urgency of all your tasks and figure out an organized schedule for yourself. Grab your free workbook here.

    6. Take Time out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate, as a heavy workload can lead to feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload. Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthy to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article to learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another, especially when we’re dealing with a heavy workload.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multitasking is a myth because your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    Get your list of priorities, do the most important thing first, and then move to the next item and work down your list.

    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

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    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients. Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack, or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then, I continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes, followed by another 10-minute break.

    Finally, I take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading, or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves, and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day when you have a heavy workload. Now, take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[2]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction; they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    So how to stay focused when you’re surrounded by distractions? Find out in Lifehack’s free Fast-Track Class – Overcoming Distractions. It’s a focused-session that will guide you to train up your focus muscle and work with distractions. Join the free session now! 

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    Sometimes you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them, but there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily to-do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. However, they take up mental energy and clutter your mind.

    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your to do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities when you have a heavy workload?

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    Spend a bit of time analyzing where you are spending your time for better time management. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is priority work; Column B is good work; Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns. At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in columns B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed, and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to solve problems, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state to tackle a heavy workload.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout, and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than letting it compound into long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets to be too much and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappy, resentful, and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    More on Dealing With a Heavy Workload

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Mark Pettit

    Mark Pettit is a Business Coach for ambitious entrepreneurs and business owners who want to achieve more by working less.

    How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work The Importance of Sleep Cycles (and Tips to Improve Yours) How to Help Anxiety When Life Is Stressing You Out A Lack of Sleep May Slowly Kill You: Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

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    Last Updated on March 2, 2021

    How to Not Get Distracted: 10 Practical Tips to Sharpen Your Focus

    How to Not Get Distracted: 10 Practical Tips to Sharpen Your Focus

    You sit at your desk, ready to finally get some work done. “Okay, lets do this,” you think to yourself. You scroll over to Word (or Excel, or Office, etc.) and open up a fresh document. You have some idea of what needs to be done, but what happens next?

    You write a few words down but just can’t stay focused. Then you say “Maybe I should wake myself up with something fun.” You go to Facebook, 20 minutes gone. Then comes Youtube, 60 minutes gone. Before you know it, lunchtime has come and half the day is gone.

    Does this seem familiar? Do you ever find yourself wasting your day?

    Well it doesn’t have to be this way, all you need to do is focus on finishing this article to find out how to not get distracted easily.

    But before we move on to the tips, here’re some important notes you need to know:

    • Avoiding distraction is tough. You’re not alone when it comes to distractions. It’s not easy staying on task when you need to work for hours at a time, but some people are able to do it. The question is: why them and not you?
    • You were never taught how to focus. It’s funny how all throughout our school days we were never taught HOW to learn and be focused, even though that’s all we did. It was just assumed, and ultimately it was hit or miss on whether or not you ended up knowing how to do those things at all.
    • The tools to help master your ability to focus. Since everyone’s left to their own devices, it’s up to you to find ways to master your focus ability. That’s what these tips are for, so you can finally stay focused and on track with what we want to accomplish for ourselves.

    So without further ado, let’s get started. 

    1. Keep Your Vision and Goals in Mind

    First things first, why do you even need to focus? Do you want to become a skilled guitar player? Do you want to write a novel? Do you want to start working from home?

    Think about it.

    Knowing why we need to stay focused can help us push through the tough and tedious parts of accomplishing our goals. That’s when our ability to focus is really tested and when it’s most needed.

    2. Reduce the Chaos of Your Day by Focusing on 2 to 3 Important Tasks

    If you have 20 tasks you need done everyday how effective do you think your focus ability will be? Terrible, right?

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    You can’t expect to do those things with sophistication if you’re too scatterbrained to focus. You need to break it down to the essentials.

    Focus on only doing 2-3 important tasks a day (even one is okay), but no more than that. It’s all you need to take steps towards accomplishing your goals. Slower is much better than giving up early because you took on too much, too early.

    3. Do Those Tasks as Soon as Possible

    In order to make sure you get those 2 to 3 tasks done, you need to do them early. This means as soon as you wake up, you’re already plotting how to do them.

    So get up, use the bathroom, eat breakfast, and do it (Yes, BEFORE work is the best time to do it).

    It’s tough, but waiting to do them only invites distraction to take over. Those distractions WILL come, and they will drain your willpower. This makes working on your goals harder to do, so don’t wait do work on your goals, do them as early as possible.

    4. Focus on Only the Smallest Part of Your Work at a Time

    An easy way to kill your focus is to see a goal for the big giant accomplishment that it is. Most goals will at least take a few weeks to months to accomplish, and knowing that can make it feel like it’ll take FOREVER to do.

    This will cause you to do one of two things:

    • You become discouraged because the goal is too big; or
    • You fantasize about what it’ll feel like to achieve the goal

    Either way is terrible for your focus and always a potential problem when focusing on the big picture or using visualization.

    So what should you do? Focus on doing a very small, minimum amount of work instead.

    For example, which seems easier:

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    Writing 200 words per day or writing a minimum of 2 sentences per day?

    20 pushups per day or a minimum of 1 pushup per day?

    The key here is to use minimums. Chances are you’ll push past them.

    Eventually your minimum will increase, and you’ll slowly improve your ability to stay focused on the bigger tasks.

    5. Visualize Yourself Working

    I briefly mentioned in tip #4 that visualization techniques can hurt you more than help you sometimes. But there is a proper way of using visualization, and it’s by visualizing yourself actually WORKING (not as if you’ve succeeded already).

    Champion runners use this technique to great effect, usually by working backwards. They imagine themselves winning at first, then they act out the whole process in reverse, feeling and visualizing each step all the way to the beginning.

    A quicker and more relevant way to apply this would be to imagine yourself doing a small part of the task at hand.

    For instance, if you need to practice your guitar but it’s all the way across the room (let’s assume maximum laziness for the sake of this example), what should you do?

    First, imagine standing up (really, think of the sensation of getting up and then do it). If you really imagined it, visualized and felt the act of standing up, then acting on that feeling will be easy.

    Then repeat the visualization process with each step till you have that guitar in hand and you’re playing it. The process of focusing so intently on each step distracts you from how much you don’t want to do something, and the visualizations “ready your body” for each step you need done.

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    All you need to do is apply this process to whatever it is you need to focus on, just start with the smallest motion you need to do.

    6. Control Your Internal Distractions

    Internal distractions are one of those problems you can’t really run away from. You need to find ways to prepare your mind for work, and find simple ways to keep it from straying to non-essential thoughts as well.

    A good way to prime your mind for work is to have a dedicated work station. If you always work in a specific area, then your mind will associate that area with work related thoughts.

    Simple enough, right? When you take breaks make sure to leave your work station, that way you’ll know when you’re “allowed” to let your thoughts roam free as well.

    Deadlines are useful here also (use Pomodoro method for example, see tip #9). This method helps keep your mind from wandering around since you’ve got that looming deadline coming along.

    If you can build your focus muscle, you will be able to take control of your internal distractions all the time. How? Join this free Fast-Track Class – Focus Like Top Achievers to find out.

    Ultimately though, silencing those unwanted thoughts is all about getting some traction going. So instead of focusing on what’s happening internally, focus getting something done (anything!). Once you do that, you’ll see that all your thoughts will be about finishing your task.

    7. Remove External Distractions

    This tip is straightforward, just get away from things that distract you.

    Is the television a distraction? Work in another room. Are the kids distracting you? Get up earlier and work before they wake up. Is the Internet distracting? Turn off the modem.

    It’s usually obvious what you should do, but you still shouldn’t overlook this piece of advice.

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    8. Skip What You Don’t Know

    This is a tip I don’t see often enough, if you hit a snag in your work then come back to it later. Focus your attention on what you CAN do, keep working “mindlessly” at all costs. All this means is that you should focus on the easy parts first.

    Eventually you can come back to the more difficult parts, and hopefully by then it’ll have come to you or you’ll have built up enough momentum that it won’t break your focus if you work on it.

    9. Improve Your Discipline With Focus Practice

    There’s a few focus exercises you can do to improve your overall discipline.

    The first one is meditation, which is basically the definition of focus in practice. Think about it, you’re literally just sitting there doing nothing. It’s a great method for building focus ability, de-stressing, and giving you greater control over your emotions. You should definitely give meditation a shot.

    The second exercise is the Pomodoro method. These are basically “focus sprints,” and each one is followed by a solid break. Like real sprints, you’ll get better and better at doing them over time. Each interval improves your ability to stay focused when it matters, so it’s more than worth your time to try this out.

    10. Manage Your Momentum

    Momentum is like a discipline lubricant‒it helps ease the process of sticking with goals. That’s why I think it’s important that we never take true breaks from our goals; we end up losing momentum and relying on discipline to get back on track (not an easy thing to do).

    This means each and everyday we need to do something significant to further our goals (yes, even weekends and holidays). And when I say “significant,” I don’t necessarily mean a big task‒but rather, any task that brings us closer to our goals.

    For instance, if your goal is to be a freelance writer, then write one single pitch on a weekend. If your goal is get healthy, then go for a short 5 minute walk even on Christmas day.

    Nothing big, nothing crazy, only stuff that is significant enough to contribute to the success of your overall goal.

    More Tips on Staying Focused

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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