A heavy workload and numerous deadlines would easily be one of the most stressful things about work. Today’s work environment demands quite a bit out of you and your ability. If you enjoy working to your fullest and find meaning in the work you do, then things are working out well for you. However, if you feel like work is hitting you even before you know it, and are caught up and pressurized, be assured, there are many others in the same boat! Well, you may not be able to change the fact that you have a whole lot to do. However, you can, with gentle effort, try and make this just a little easier on yourself. We put up a post earlier that described 2 guidelines that would help you plan and anticipate your day better, to deal with a heavy workload.
In addition to working things out practically and planning your day well, you also need to work with yourself – or your mind. The difficult situation is but one component of the problem. Your response to it always remains the other half. So how can you go about changing your response? We’d say, by first knowing it. Knowing yourself, observing your thoughts just as they are, is the first step towards bringing about any positive change in your mindset. We go on to share some ways in which people react to their workload. Read on, and at whichever point you internally feel, ‘ahh….I do this too..’, pause and read a little more carefully. Look within and in your own space, just be aware and know, honestly, that this is the way you react. Often, that is enough to prompt change…
Working on your Acceptance of the Heavy Workload
When some of us complain about heavy workload, we tend to blame the market for being unpredictable, the company for being excessively profit oriented, our boss for being self-centered etc. All of us feel tired, or just do not like working after a certain extent. However, at work, you may see others flogging it out endlessly. This makes you worry that they will be noticed and given more perks. Maybe some comparisons would be made between your efforts and theirs. You do not wish to fall short of expectations. So, you forcibly pull up your socks and try to fight it out. At the same time, doing something you don’t completely wish to do is difficult. Gradually, you feel angry at just how much you need to put in.. then, you feel helpless at the hands of work. Apart from fretting about how external factors are pushing you beyond your limit, there seems to be nothing more you can do about it.
Well, it is natural to want to complain and crib when there is too much to do. However, you need to check….how much of it is truly healthy for you? And when do the scales begin tipping over?
Imagine 2 scenarios –
You are neck deep in work. You are just about on schedule and hope to finish all that you set out to do for the day. Suddenly, a colleague comes running in, saying there is a change in your clients’ schedule because of which something crucial that was to be done tomorrow needs to be finished today, by hook or crook. Internally, you almost feel like your head is splitting. This was the last straw on the camel’s back. All your planning has gone for a toss. You thought of going home on time, resting and spending some quiet time with family. Now none of that’s going to happen. You probably need to stay back and you don’t know for how long. Not all of your colleagues are as earnest about this task, raising your burden. You lose control and crib to your colleague about just how unprofessional those clients are!! Before you know it, your head begins to ache. You probably need a coffee. You order for one, but are unable to even feel its taste, because your mind is abuzz with thoughts. You call another colleague up and vent your feelings to him…and so it continues. Eventually, once your day (and the task) is finally done with and you’re home, you can’t stop telling your spouse about how bad and overwhelming your day was. Later in the night, you decide to hang out with some friends. And there again, most of you have your own stories about how you had yet another cumbersome day at work and how unfair this whole thing is!
You are neck deep in work. You are just about on schedule and hope to finish all that you set out to do for the day. Suddenly, a colleague comes running in, saying there is a change in your clients’ schedule because of which something crucial that was to be done tomorrow needs to be finished today, by hook or crook. You are disappointed. You thought you would go home on time, watch television and unwind. But now, seems like that will not happen. You would probably need to spend at least couple of hours more at work. You are somewhat fatigued and annoyed, but then, internally, you know this needs to be done. Reacting to it and complaining about it endlessly would only sap you off more energy than accepting that though painful, now, your agenda for the day would have to be reworked. Fretting about it and talking to colleagues won’t take the situation away.
So, you resume working, and take a few deep breaths. This helps you feel somewhat better. You take the situation in your stride and continue working. Maybe, later on, you tell your friend that such days are painful. Maybe you even share a sarcastic laugh or two about it.
Eventually, your day is done, so is the task. You go back home, have some warm home-cooked dinner and go meet your friends. Many of you have had a tiring day at work. You dwell a little on how agonizing it is, then move on to talk about other stuff. You return home, feeling good within and retire to bed.
Which scenario out of the two seemed more peaceful? Which one involved lesser negativity? Lastly, which one left you feeling better? Well, the latter, because it involved a lesser degree of the person ‘reacting’ to the situation.
At times, acceptance of a problem can leave us in a much better position to handle it. Having a whole lot to do is definitely painful. However, getting agitated, angry and distressed about it only takes away more from your already overworked body and mind. Also, cribbing about the workload and the system does nothing to take away the load. On the other hand, it makes the situation seem unbearable, and you immediately want to remove yourself from it. But then, you also know how important this job is to you. It does mean a whole lot to you. So, you end up wanting the job and despising it, all at the same time, every day – sounds really stressful isn’t it? Try changing your approach to “yes, pressured deadlines are difficult to face on a daily basis. But these are the demands of my job. So let me see what I can do in this space”. And what will this do for you? Over a period of time, it will change the way you think about the situation. Instead of feeling like a victim of circumstances, you feel more in control. You feel calmer within and address the situation objectively. Gradually, you take ownership and decide to work with yourself and see what ‘you’ (and not the market or the boss) can do about the situation.
In a nutshell….
Substitute R for ‘React’ with R for ‘Rest’
In place of reacting to the situation, try and rest. What do we mean? Well, we do understand that you’d be having a lot of heavy days at work. When you sense that you’re physically or mentally tired, take a little time out, maybe even 2 minutes. Sit back and breathe. Even if you take 4 breaths mindfully, it would help you feel more settled. When you call for your coffee, take a moment to sense its aroma. Feel your back against the chair and take those 2 minutes to let go and rest.
‘But I don’t have enough time to work, How can I rest?!!’
Well, you do unknowingly spend a lot of time complaining about work, both at work and outside! If even a third of this time is spent in consciously resting and being compassionate with yourself and your body, it would help. You could try it right now, even if you are at work and reading this
Wish you a good day
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Image Credit: exfordy
Post contributed by: Sadia Raval and Malini Krishnan
Malini is a Clinical Psychologist and she worked with adolescents and young adults at Inner Space, from 2010 to 2015.