We all know what it’s like to have a heavy workload that makes time in the office stressful. Sometimes a long to-do list can actually make you less productive because you’re so overwhelmed you don’t even know where to start.
While heavy workloads are just part of office life, they aren’t something that has to hold you back. By working strategically and using some project management tips, you can tackle even the longest task lists.
First and foremost, you’ll need to get organised. This will look different for everyone, depending on your job and personal work style. But, consider using things like a physical weekly planner, an online calendar with reminders, binders, files, paper trays and a sticky-note system to prioritise tasks and track deadlines.
Using even a simple system can be a powerful way to stay on top of the biggest workloads. When you are well organised you are much less likely to miss deadlines and you can work smarter, not harder.
Remember, for a calendar or to-do list to work, you need to use the system. Always note deadlines and keep a good list of tasks so you can manage them well. As projects develop, update your system and stay on task.
Set Personal Goals and Deadlines
Use your organisation system to set some personal goals and deadlines. This step will help you avoid letting things get backed up, which will only cause you to feel overwhelmed and get behind.
These goals can serve as benchmark goals to help you meet team or company deadlines. For example, if you have a major project due in three months, set some milestones for yourself to avoid a last-minute scramble a few days before the deadline.
To make these goals effective, make sure they are very specific and measurable. Also consider posting them somewhere where you’ll see them daily so you can revisit them and gauge your progress.
Say “Yes” Strategically
It’s so easy to commit to projects or even seemingly small tasks in the moment. When you are in a meeting or when your boss asks you to do something and puts you on the spot, think carefully before you say “yes.”
Taking on too many tasks can make your workload unrealistic and get in the way of other commitments you already have. This isn’t to say that you can’t help out a colleague and it definitely isn’t to say that you should get into the habit of telling your boss “no.”
What it does mean is that you should be careful not to take on too much and consider working with your boss on deadlines or explaining your current workload before you promise that you can take something new on.
If your manager is aware of your current deadlines, she may be willing to rearrange some tasks so your workload is more manageable.
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Your organisation system, deadlines and to-do lists will only help you conquer your heavy workload if you can focus on current tasks. Even if you are extremely organised, you won’t work your way through your tasks if you can’t stay focused.
Start by recognising what your personal distractions are. Notice if things like social media browsing, music, chatty coworkers or your smartphone are getting you off track throughout the day and then eliminate those problems.
Try listening to calm music to block out distracting sounds and only allow yourself to check in on social media during your lunch break. If you need to, put your phone in a drawer and only check it on predetermined breaks. Removing distractions will go a long way in helping you boost your productivity.
Get in your Focused Groove
With distractions at bay, you can get into an efficient groove. Form good work habits that allow you to power through projects and knock items off your to-do list, helping you manage your heavy workload.
One technique that can work is setting up “work sessions” that are broken up with breaks. For example, for your first hour of work you may plan to check emails, follow up on projects and organise your day. Then, take a ten-minute break before you focus on a specific project until lunch.
This kind of organisation will help you get things done and avoid distractions, so you’ll be extremely productive and efficient, lightening your workload as you go.
Know When It’s Too Much
Even when you’re extremely organised, set deadlines, eliminate distractions and stay focused, there is only so much one person can take on. Wise professionals know how much is too much and don’t take on more than they can handle. Remember, the point is not just to get things done, but to do things well.
If your workload is too heavy and you know that the quality of your work is suffering, it’s time to reach out to your team or your boss. Dividing responsibilities, delegating tasks or working with your boss to have some items reassigned or deadlines changed is sometimes the only solution to an unrealistic workload.
Use these tips to handle a heavy workload well, so you will not only complete all of your responsibilities, but also produce top-notch work.
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