Cup of Confessions: How to deal with a high workload

Hello my Honeydew Bubble Teas,

Soooo, how’s it going at work? Uhu, that doesn’t sound convincing? Sit down so we can have a talk…

Today I felt like talking with you about high pressure and a high work load. A couple of years ago, I worked at a place that drained my energy. And there were several reasons for that:

  • I didn’t like part of the tasks I had to do
  • I had a huge work load
  • I didn’t get along with my boss, because we’re very different people
  • The core vision of the company didn’t convince me. Their pillars felt like just words to me, more than something they lived and breathed, especially at the location where I worked at.

Since then, I’ve learned a great deal from those 4 years working there. To cover everything in one post is obviously impossible. Today let’s just focus on the high work load part. Are you currently buried under a pile of paper? Are you feeling that you’re almost at your limit? Are you dreaming half awake about unanswered mails? Are you waking up at night with palpitations? Then it’s time to take action. Because you can take matters into your own hands. Accepting a huge work load will have the following consequences:

  • You make a lot more mistakes because, you’re trying to multitask, which is mainly splitting up your brain and making you a lot less productive. You’re not as focused, so mistakes are bound to happen.
  • Colleagues will think it’s part of your job. When you accept a task that isn’t part of your job, your colleague will end up thinking that it is the case so they will continue requesting this from you. It’s a human thing, nothing personal. Say you ask something of someone and they do it, you just assume that that’s what they do…
  • You will miss deadlines. Because you’re busy doing what’s less important, you’ll miss deadlines of more important things. It’s not because something is urgent, that it is also important.
  • You’ll get a burn out if you don’t take action. Taking some vacation may help some of you. But it may also not be enough… If you are going back to work and you already feel powerless before you even start working, it’s perhaps time to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation.

Here are 8 things I do to protect the quality of my work.

  1. Learn to say no: Saying NO was one of the hardest things to learn for me. I’m a people pleaser, always have been. I want to help everyone, but I often failed to see that a lot of people asked for my help because it’s convenient, not because they can’t do it themselves (or some just don’t want to know how). If you don’t learn to say NO, people who ask certain things of you will start to think that the task in question is part of your job, while that’s not always the case. When you just start out working, you don’t dare to refuse, because you’re not sure what is expected of you. In that case, ask your boss during your periodic 1/1 meetings. Your boss will then tell you if they expect it of you or not. If not, and I know it’s hard, you’ll have to say no. It doesn’t have to be those only 2 letters. Gracefully refusing is an art… I’ll make a separate post on that.
  2. Make a list of my To Do’s at least once per week: I work according to the Eisenhower principle, a powerful tool to organize your tasks. I first make a list of all my To Do’s and then I divide everything according to their importance and emergencies:
    • Important, Urgent
    • Important, Not Urgent
    • Not Important, Urgent
    • Not Important, Not Urgent
  3. Make a Planning: “If it’s not planned, it isn’t real” – The very wise words of my role model Marie Forleo. All the Important/Urgent tasks are planned first. I take enough margin to do these tasks. Then I plan the Important, Not Urgent tasks. I then re-evaluate and assess whether it’s necessary to do the Unimportant tasks… I at least do this once per week.
  4. Weed out unimportant tasks: This is a difficult one, because you don’t want to disappoint people. But you will disappoint someone anyway if you do your job badly and full of mistakes. Because this will make people grow weary of you and they end up losing trust in you.
  5. Switch off the e-mail notifications: I once read that your e-mailbox is the collection of all emergencies of other people. Ughh, so true.. I have to break it to you: It’s not because it’s urgent to someone else, that it is your urgency… Everyone has to learn to plan, chances are that it became urgent because they didn’t plan it well either. So you don’t need to read it right away! Now imagine while you’re working and into the zone and you continuously see e-mail pop ups… tell me you don’t click it right away… I do that and I think most people do too. Hence, I turned off the notifications a couple of years ago. And even then, I often have to tell myself “do not read it now, Sarah”. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll lose several hours just reading and answering e-mails. Talking about counter productive…
  6. Let my boss decide: if your list of To Do’s has mainly become Important & Urgent, let’s be real, you won’t be able to finish it all within one day. What I do is go to my boss with the list and ask them which ones I should focus on first. I then proceed with telling them that I could only continue working on it … hours and on … days, so that will cause a delay of … days.
  7. Simplify my work: I don’t tend to work in a certain way, just because someone told me so. If I can do something faster and get more things done, I will. Lose less energy and do more work. Be cost effective!
  8. Use time blocks: Aside from planning your bigger tasks, there are often little tasks that require your attention. You’ll be a lot more productive if you do all the tasks of the same theme in one time frame. Often when I get questions per mail, I schedule it and answer them all at once. Or that’s how I work on more productive weeks :p.

Voilà friends, those were my tips! I picked these up over the past 6 years through books and a lot of it through Youtube (Gillian Perkins, Marie Forleo ==> 2 power ladies!). So I haven’t specifically taken any classes or courses for this. There are a lot more things you could do, but this is what I found worked for me.

Do you have other tips to share, feel free to comment below! I’d love to know what you do to release the pressure on your workload.

Love,

Sarah

3 thoughts on “Cup of Confessions: How to deal with a high workload

    • sarahscupofbeauty says:

      Thank you so much Alisha, for your kind words! I’m very happy you’ve found it helpful. I’d love to write one for mommy bloggers someday, but that’ll have to wait until I have kids myself :D. I highly recommend you to check out Gillian Perkins on Youtube. She’s a mom of 3 and a very successful business owner. She’s incredibly inspiring and talks about how to be more productive when you work at home and have 3 little children… xoxo Sarah

      Liked by 1 person

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