3 Ways To Lighten an Overwhelming Workload

how to deal with an overwhelming workload

Photo Credit: tommaso79/Shutterstock

People like working with me because I’m capable and reliable. I’m efficient, organized, and personable, especially when it comes to interacting with clients. Because of that, I’m often given more work than others. I’m always added to extra projects, given extra tasks, and required to be on calls or attend meetings.

It can feel annoying and unfair. For a while, I thought it was just a part of life. I struggled to get everything done when my other coworkers seemed to always be leaving early or goofing off. I knew something needed to change, so I looked into new strategies that would help take some of the work off my plate.

Here are some ways I have been able to lighten my workload. 

1. I had a real conversation with my boss

A lot of times, my boss or manager didn't even know I was struggling to get everything done. I try to have weekly meetings to ensure my boss understands everything I’m doing that week and to be clear if I have extra time or can lend a hand elsewhere. 

“I’m really happy you came to me with this task, but I’m also working on three other projects right now,” I’ll say. If they are sympathetic, they will work with me to create a more balanced workload and respect my boundaries.

2. I block off chunks of time for myself

One of my managers used to add me to meetings without asking if I had time to attend. I found most of these meetings unnecessary, which frustrated me more. 

To combat this, I began blocking off time on my calendar. I simply say “client meeting” in the title, and color-code it so I know what task I need to get done during that uninterrupted time. I also use special settings in my calendar to prevent my manager from automatically adding me. She had to ask me each time she wanted me to be in a meeting with her, and I’d be able to assess if I had the time or not.

3. When in doubt, go with your gut

I had a boss who wouldn’t take no for an answer, wouldn’t accept my alternative solutions, or anything other than ‘yes’ when it came to the things he wanted me to do. Eventually, I just starting saying ok to the new tasks, but only as a way to get him off my back. He’d leave me alone, and a lot of times, he’d actually forget about the project he asked me to do. It wasn’t worth me stressing out about his urgency and immediacy when I knew in reality, it wasn’t a priority at all.

It's natural to try and rush to finish a project or an assignment when someone attaches urgency to it, but if I know recurring patterns are present, or there's a better way to solve the problem, I try and go with what my gut tells me. I know I have a right to prioritize my work based on my main responsibilities, and sometimes simply saying, “I’m happy to get to that for you, do you have a deadline?” or “I have it on my to-do list” helps me buy time. Then I'm able to figure out what I need to shift around, and can complete the task in a more realistic timeframe.

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