Feeling overworked is a common problem that many people face. There are times in life and work when you’re going to feel overwhelmed. While there are some people who enjoy being constantly busy, for others, this can be a cause of stress and anxiety. If you find yourself in this situation, here are six steps that you can take to manage your workload and regain control of your work life.
1. Define your "enough"
Before you can cut back to more manageable work levels, you have to know what that means. Assuming your manager isn’t at the heart of your overwork, reach out to him or her to define clear expectations. If you work for yourself or otherwise have control over your work day, take some time to plan the day in advance, setting two or four goals and setting aside time blocks for each to get them done.
2. Determine your true motivation
Sometimes, the motivation to work too much comes from being afraid or feeling trapped. Are you feeling trapped or that you must work even when you feel like you don’t want to? Do you feel like you lack choice? If fear is ruling your work life, you need to examine why and take steps to change it, such as setting better boundaries or even seeking out new work that doesn’t make you so fearful.
3. Figure out what you're missing
Every time you say "yes" to working beyond what’s comfortable or reasonable, you’re incurring an opportunity cost. Sometimes, it’s a price you’re happy to pay, such as when you’re engrossed in a thrilling project. If you’re constantly grinding it out with little joy, missing out on other parts of your life, and damaging your relationships, you need to look at the true cost of your sacrifices.
4. Create a “no” list
Protecting your time and space can help give you a sense of control over your schedule. If you don’t want to do something or have been dreading that virtual happy hour, don’t feel like you have to go. Replace the activities you don’t want to do with something that you’ll enjoy. Healthy boundaries are crucial for your well-being!
5. Find productivity boosters
One way to work less is to get more done at the same time. Work on keeping your tougher or more focus-intensive work for these "on" times. If you do your best work before 11 a.m., don’t go down a social media rabbit-hole first-thing in the morning and waste that opportunity to get a lot done. Focusing on the task at hand rather than trying to multitask can help you accomplish more in less time.
6. Take a deep breath and step away
Sometimes silence and reflection can help you quiet the noise and help you refocus on what you want to accomplish in your day—and within your big-picture goals. Deep breathing exercises are a great way to promote relaxation and lower your stress response. Having a spiritual practice, even if it’s just taking quiet time every day to reflect on your life and what you want out of it, can be enlightening and help you find solutions and inspiration to overcome overwork.
Feeling overworked from time to time can happen but don't let it become a way of life. By following the steps above, you can get your work-life balance back on track and find ways to manage your workload in a more healthy and sustainable way.
Do you have any other tips for managing a heavy workload? Share them with us in the comments below!