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Tips to Remain on Top of your Workload

You know those days when you feel like your to-do list is growing by the minute and that you’ll never meet that fast-approaching deadline? Or do you simply feel that your workload is just too much to handle?

Everyone feels this way once in a while, but there is hope! These tips will help you stay on top of your workload so you can avoid feeling stressed and overwhelmed and get back to enjoying your job.

Regain Control

The first thing to do when you are inundated at work is to regain control. It sounds simple but the sooner you do this, the sooner you can reform some habits that will help you stay on top of things in the future.

Take a step back

Take a step back and recognise that it’s possible to unbury yourself. You can regain control and conquer that to-do list. Look at the bigger picture and realise that while you are in a stressful situation, it’s nothing you can’t handle, and nothing you haven’t handled before. If you can, let things stand for a bit so you can refresh your mind and approach the situation with renewed energy. If you can’t take that long, at least step out of the office for lunch and come back with a positive attitude.

Rework your priorities

Make a list of all the things you need to accomplish. Include both major projects and smaller tasks. Then, rewrite the list while strategically reworking your priorities. In the heat of the moment, what seems pressing might not be as important in the grand scheme of things, and this will help you see that probably a lot of what you have been worrying about isn’t actually as essential as you might have thought.

Make a plan

With your entire list in front of you, you can start making a plan for getting things done. Most likely, you’ll be able to see what you need to do first and what can be pushed to the side for the time being. This step is important to help you feel like you are in control again.

Set some personal deadlines

Your manager and team already assign some deadlines to you. While you do need to work around those and meet them, you can also set some personal deadlines to make your workload easier to manage. This is particularly helpful when you have a lot of deadlines to complete. Break each of these down into separate milestones, for example: finish planning this by Monday, complete the first draft by Wednesday and then submit it in on Friday. 

Holding yourself to deadlines will help you be more productive and stay on top of your to-do list. It will also help you more successfully meet office deadlines as you can plan ahead.

Delegate where possible

If you are in a position to delegate some tasks, do so. If your workload has become so overwhelming and there is someone on your team or someone you manage who can help you cross some things off your list, take advantage of this and get some help.

Stay on Top

After you’ve successfully gained some traction over your workload, don’t stop there! Adopt some habits that will help you stay on top so you can avoid being bombarded with too much work again.

Set up some systems

As you worked through your pile of to-dos, you’ve likely found yourself using some systems, even if they were informal. You found ways you can get work done efficiently and quickly, without sacrificing quality. 

Keep those systems in place and continue to approach your work in a way that helps you get things done before they pile up on your desk.

Use a calendar and stick to it

Using a calendar to track meetings, deadlines and work tasks sounds obvious, but this is one of the best ways to stay on top of your workload. Whether you use your smartphone, a desktop calendar or an old-fashioned planner, make a system that works for you. If you do go electronic, consider using alarms to remind you of tasks and deadlines.

Address any re-occurring issues with your manager 

If you feel like you are constantly carrying a workload that isn’t manageable, talk to your manager. They may not realise that your tasks far outweigh your time and that you can’t get everything done in a reasonable timeframe.

Be sure to frame the issue by asking for extensions or permission to delegate some tasks to team members so your manager doesn’t get the idea that you aren’t capable of excelling in your position.

Don’t over promise

It’s so easy to volunteer for tasks or tell a colleague you can get something done in a week when in reality, those promises aren’t realistic. Be very careful when you take on tasks and make sure you aren’t promising beyond your means. One way you can do this is by checking your list of other tasks or deadlines and calendar to make sure it is manageable before you take on extra tasks. 

Find your daily groove

A big part of staying on top of your workload is finding your “daily groove.” Do what it takes to stay focused and be productive so you can consistently get things done before your to-do list becomes unmanageable. Getting into a regular routine is a great way to focus yourself and help you buckle down.  

These simple actions will help you regain control of your overwhelming to-do list and will hopefully show you that this doesn’t have to be something you dread. These tips will make it easier for you to get back on top of your workload, and then once you have a clean slate, it’s much easier to form habits that will help you remain there.
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