Overworked

FEELING OVERWORKED – WHAT YOU CAN DO

Your alarm goes “trrrrrrrrrring” in the morning and your eyes are almost sealed shut.

Snooze.

Yet again “trrrrrrring”

Squirms, sighs, irritation.

You wake up to yet another day. Or yet another time-table? Let me narrate some more. Every hour of your day is like a timed, one-minute game. It’s all about speed, efficiency and energy and you are constantly feeling overworked.After all, It is the era of multitasking!! If a sound recorder could gain access to your mind, it would probably record something like, ‘Faster, cmon do it! You don’t have time..perhaps over and over again. Your mind is constantly flexing or ‘stretching’ itself. Complex assignments need to be done both quickly, accurately and efficiently. Some of those need attention to detail, some, conceptual clarity and some others superior presentation skills. And there are many in a day.

Add to that relationships. You have a partner who needs your care and support, parents who are eagerly waiting to talk to one of the few people in their ‘circle’, children who need practical and emotional support and guidance and peers ranging from neighbors to your college buddy to facebook friends, who jostle for your attention.

More to the recipe. Household chores. Those endless cooking sessions, utensils, messy cupboards, piled up clothes, grocery lists. Or substitute it with any activity that forms a part of an incessant race that life seems to have become.

Do you find yourself nodding in agreement? Do you identify with and see yourself in the above description? Do you happen to think – “Atleast marathons end!!”? If so, you’re probably feeling overworked, stressed out and could be on the path of burnout.

Burnout, simply put, is a stage of intense physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It is a stage wherein every new task you take up, every new expectation of you, every new person you meet seems to be an added burden, so much so that you cease to find meaning in carrying them out.

You want to let go, you want to get rid…..rid yourself of this taxing and vexing state.

What can we do??

What can we do to help ourselves? We all have our share of catharsis and fun when we engage in those cribbing sessions about endless demands. Fair enough. We need a fair dose of this. However, this is sure not enough. We need to take active and corrective, if not resurrective action. Let’s figure out how we can work this out.

Prioritize: 

This one’s been done to death. And why not? It is the most important. We need to identify for ourselves what our priorities are – “which task, which chore, which relationship needs me the most?”

Utilize answers that are spontaneous and flow naturally from within. Well, this is very very important and a big learning for those of us who haven’t thought of it before:

Only you completely understand what task you are drawn to at the moment and why. Only you are completely in sync with what your internal priority is- what if done, can give you mental peace. 

Our internal voice spontaneously picks out the most important task out of our list of tasks, over and above what everybody else tells us. It also has reasons for its choice. Listen to it.

All good so far. But but but…many a time, our chosen priorities conflict with what important people around us think….ground for mental frustration galore. This leads us to the second step-

Dealing With Conflict: 

When you are faced with such a situation, it is often wise to pay heed to the opposite person’s views. In most situations, they are significant people on the professional and/or emotional front. Give them free space to share what they think is priority. HOWEVER, it is very important for the sake of our mental peace to sieve through what they sayTake some, leave some.

What do I take? 

While you are actively listening to him/her, there would always be that statement or two that you can really identify with and feel for. Incorporate those into your agenda. Or make a sincere attempt to.

What do I leave?

Put very mundanely, leave the rest aside for the moment. Bear in mind that with every additional person comes an added perspective. And perspectives can clash. We have all met people who insist that their expectations be met because they are important. When you interact with them, bear in mind a realistic appraisal of your commitments and time constraints. The moment you feel meeting their demands is not possible, stand your ground and put this across politely. Negotiate, even if this seems difficult. Many of us follow a ‘try and accommodate’ approach that leads to peril. We often agree to do things despite knowing inherently that it is not possible. Are we really able to execute those tasks we’ve said ‘yes’ to? If so, at what cost? If not, then at what cost?? This leads us to the third step.

Timing Matters: 

I could have emphasized on the two words above over and over. The timing of saying ‘no’ is nothing short of a trump card. What often adds to others’ frustration and our exhaustion is having to deal with refusal or failure for an expectation we have agreed to fulfill earlier. A prompt and timely ‘no’ could be difficult both to execute and to absorb. Nonetheless, a ‘no’ after a month of believing that an expectation would be met is easily more problematic to deal with!! If you tend to go overboard with enthusiasm, obligation or affection, this possibility could arise. We need to guard against it.

In sum, know your mind and follow it to be at peace with yourself. It could be tough to do, however, if you persevere at it, it could build the inner strength and resilience that will help you tide through such situations and emerge satisfied…..and content.

Post contributed by: Malini Krishnan (Psychologist, Inner Space, 2010-Present)

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