Dread getting up in the morning to go to work? Is it the heavy workload that repels you? Many of you probably think of deadlines and workload when you think of work. It’s true that today, work pressures have mounted tremendously. You may have a lot to pack into each day. Though dealing with pressured deadlines and a heavy workload is stressful because it demands a lot out of you, there is little option you are left with. Maybe you cannot change the ‘workload’, the fact that you have a lot to do at work, today and on most days. Yes, this is tiring and demanding. However, is there something you can do to make this situation just a little easier on yourself? Even if it means worrying just a little lesser about how you will manage or being a little clearer about how much you can do? Often these little efforts help in cutting out from the stress and lending you some more energy to cope with the day.
We can’t change the reality of work pressure, but we’re sure you’re trying to deal better with it, which is why you are here, reading this. We’ve put down a few guidelines below that we think will help in your efforts. Muse over them, apply them to yourself and see what works for you.
What Can You Do to Deal with a Heavy Workload?
‘Think through’ instead of ‘Worrying’ or ‘Complaining’ –
Many of us think about how our day at work would pan out. However, if you notice your thoughts carefully, you will see that what you are actually doing is either worrying or complaining to yourself about it. ‘ I have a lot to do today’, ‘I have a lot to do today’, ‘I have a lot to do today’ is probably all that goes on repeatedly in your mind. The result of this is, you’ve ‘thought about’ your day. However, you haven’t ‘thought through’ or ‘planned through’ it. It helps immensely to calmly and gently take yourself on a realistic mental tour of the day. Plan the tasks you need to do, think through how you will do them.
While touring your day mentally, just watch or observe what you need to do. Do not react to it. What we mean here is, certain tasks in the mental tour could worry you. Soon enough, you find that you’ve stopped thinking and started worrying. To try and prevent slipping into worry, think of your mental tour like a movie you need to watch. When you sense anxiety in yourself during the tour, take a few deep breaths. Tell yourself, having the courage to face the anxiety now will help a lot when you go to work tomorrow. In your mental movie, deal with the situation as if you are at work. This will help reduce the ‘fear of the unknown’ factor when you actually go to work.
Running yourself through a mental tour in the manner explained above helps because then you know better how your day is likely to pan out. Our minds love predictability. So let’s use it to our advantage. The more predictable your day is in your mind, the less stressed you will be.
Plan time and tasks realistically –
When you plan your day, anticipate when you will be tired and when you will need a break. An oft miscalculated step we take while planning is this – we only plan what we need to do. We don’t plan our mental resources behind it. As a result, you may find yourself fatigued at work and then be stressed about how you weren’t able to do the remaining tasks adequately. So, when planning your day, remember to be careful and realistic. Check if you will really need only half an hour to get that job done. Plan buffer time for delays and distractions.
It also helps to anticipate and plan breaks. Acknowledge your own limits while planning. Many of us underestimate our need for a break. Lunch and tea breaks may not suffice, because we discuss work even as we eat or sip tea, stripping our minds of a true ‘break’. This again leads to an important tip – be deliberate. You may find that you refrain from taking a real break, even for 5 minutes, saying ‘I need to work’. Then, even as you work, your mind is wandering elsewhere, taking its own break. Next, you realize you aren’t focusing and ask yourself if you need a break. The reply, yet again, is ‘but I need to work’. Here, you are internally torn between taking a break and working, doing neither completely. We think it makes far more sense to grant yourself those ten minutes off and truly take a break. Once you’ve begun working, be deliberate about that too. Consciously focus on work and do not focus on any distractions. Its like saying, when working, work; when ‘breaking’, ‘break’!!
Remember, our mind doesn’t necessarily need a long time to recharge. Even 5 minutes of sitting with yourself and truly being mindful will help. If done sincerely, it will provide you with some more energy to deal with the rest of the day.
These are some guidelines you could utilize to plan your day better. However, some of us also have internal or psychological difficulties adapting to heavy workload. In another blog post that we will put up soon, we will discuss ways of working on ourselves to minimize stress caused due to a heavy workload.
Do share with us your experiences with juggling work and workload through comments on our site.
Image Credit: e27singapore
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.