Four Effective Strategies for Dealing With Work Overload

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Success is great, but it can clog your calendar and push you past your limits. At a certain point, you’ll simply run out of time to do everything you’d like for your career. This is a great place to be because it means all your hustle has paid off, but it can also be exhausting.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to manage work overload and secure the work-life balance you need. These essential strategies can help you sustain your career and your peace of mind.

Increase Your Efficiency

Increasing efficiency is the first order of business when you’re facing a work overload. The reasoning is simple: If you can complete tasks in a shorter amount of time, you’ll be able to fit more into your workweek. Suddenly, an overwhelming workload can become surprisingly manageable.

There are lots of tricks for boosting efficiency. One is to banish all distractions from your workspace. Your smartphone might enjoy its perch beside your keyboard, but you’d be much better off if it lived in a drawer. You should also make a list of all your habitual time-wasters, from excessive email-checking to mindless online surfing. Once you’ve identified the bad habits derailing your productivity, you can work towards eliminating them from your routine.

With constant vigilance and a bit of discipline, you should be able to complete essential tasks faster. The result? More blank space in your schedule than you could ever have imagined.

Create a “Time Budget”

You can often improve your working life just by being a bit more conscientious about how you spend your time. If you don’t chart out your daily habits, you’ll have no idea what’s eating up the bulk of your schedule. They say time is money, so maybe you should handle your schedule like you handle your finances: by developing a time budget.

First of all, decide how much time you can actually afford to spend on work. You have all sorts of commitments in your life, and, believe it or not, work shouldn’t be the top priority. You’ve got to sleep, eat, shower, and practice self-care. On top of all that, you should also leave time for the exploring, learning, and socializing that make life worth living. By starting with a 24-hour day and subtracting all the hours you should fill with non-work activities, you’ll end up with a healthy amount of time to put toward work.

Once you’ve settled on a practical workweek, you need to investigate how you’re spending your time. With just a pen and paper, try breaking down a typical day. How many hours do you spend on networking? On communicating with colleagues and clients? On your projects or physical tasks? Fully understanding your current routine will allow you to make necessary adjustments.

Prioritize The Most Important Tasks

Once you’ve created your time budget and mapped out your habits, you’ll have a plain view of where your time is going. From there, you’ll need to determine which activities you should continue to prioritize and which could stand to be cut down. This is where you’ll have to make the hard decisions necessary to maintain your sanity and further your career.

To make this process easier, try ranking the importance of your daily activities. If a task far down on your priority list is taking up too much time, think of ways you can complete the job faster.

You won’t be able to spend as much time on everything as you’d like. This can be a hard pill to swallow, especially if you’re a perfectionist. To keep your spirits up, remember that all this cutting back is a product of your success. You’ve managed to build a thriving career, and now you’re reworking your schedule to create an even brighter future.

Say “No” to Additional Commitments

You probably built your career by saying “yes” to every piece of work you encountered. This is a great way to build your profile and increase your reach, but you’ll have to change your tactics to avoid overextending yourself. You can’t say “yes” to everyone forever.

Decline the jobs that will only push you over the edge, and don’t ever feel guilty about it. This is an exciting time in your career. You’ve finally earned the right to be choosy, and you should take full advantage of your newfound leverage.


About the Author: Ben Clabault is a freelance writer from Sandwich, Massachusetts. He has spent much of his adult life traveling through Latin America, and he currently lives with his fiance in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. His areas of expertise include travel, marketing, SaaS, and global cultures. You can find his work on Copyfolio and reach out to him on LinkedIn.

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