It will come as no surprise that, in the UK, we work too much. Traditional values tell us that a solid day’s work is a noble act. While this may have some truth, this belief forgets that an efficient day’s work trumps all. Furthermore, too many solid days can lead to stress and burnout, which costs the UK economy billions every year.
UK workers, in 2016, worked the longest hours-per-week in the EU. Great! That must mean that we have plenty of productivity to show for our struggles. Unfortunately not. The UK also happens to be way down the rankings in productivity. This isn’t a coincidence. Let’s see where the disconnect might reside.
Being overworked is a problem. Currently, half a million people in the UK are suffering from self-reported, work-related stress. That’s like all of Leeds acting in a short and unpleasant way. Shocking as that may, or may not, be, it might surprise you that many physical and mental health issues are linked to stress.
We’re going to start with looking at stress because people are important to us. And as well as hurting the economy and businesses, stress most immediately hurts the individual and those close to them. Before we begin, please remember to talk to someone if you are experiencing emotional difficulties relating to anything.
How to Handle Overload: When Time Management is Not Enough
What to do if you have too much work
If youve examined your workload and determined you your current workload is a little more than you can reasonably handle, there are things you can do to potentially reduce it, such as:
Asking for advice from someone with experience
Its possible you have colleagues that either are currently experiencing the same issue or have experienced it in the past. You may also have friends whove mentioned feeling the same way at their own job. Consider asking a close friend or trusted coworker for advice based on their own experiences. The details of what they went through and how they overcame it might contain useful suggestions.
Seeking help with completing tasks
A positive way to ensure the completion of tasks is to encourage teamwork. If you have a colleague with a strength for a certain type of ask, consider asking them for help. If they cant assist with the task itself, they might have advice on how to complete it more easily. Alternatively, if their own workload includes tasks where you have strengths, you might switch tasks with them. This way, you can both reduce your task lists more quickly.
Talking to your manager
Your manager might be unaware that you have too much work. Consider letting them know the situation and ask if theres anything they can do to help. Each manager is different, so its helpful to take time before meeting with them to determine the best way to speak to them about it. Let them know the specifics about what youre experiencing. One approach is offering proactive solutions of your own to show your manager that you are serious about completing the work but need assistance in making the workload more manageable.
Learning positive ways to decline new assignments
Sometimes, its useful to finish one or two projects before taking on a new one. If your manager continues delegating work to you during this time, you may want to decline this work until you have time to address the new assignment.
A positive way of declining work is informing your supervisor of your current workload when they approach you with a new task. When you do this, focus on the importance of the new project and how its best chance of success is delegating it to someone who can complete it on time. For this option, its helpful to be as honest as you can with your supervisor, especially when speaking about your work methods. This will help them understand that its the workload itself that is challenging, not your work ethic.
Asking for a deadline extension
After reviewing your current workload, consider whether you can accomplish your tasks more easily by delaying one or two deadlines. Extending a deadline allows you more time to complete your work before moving on to the next task. Its important in this instance to only consider deadlines that dont need immediate attention. Consider reminding your manager of other projects with deadlines approaching and how important they are when asking to extend a separate projects deadline.
What does having too much work look like?
There are many signs that you may have too much work. Understanding these signs can help you determine whether you need to reduce your workload. Though this experience is different for everyone, there are some common factors that may indicate you have too much work.
By themselves, none of these signs are definite indicators of too much work. However, if you experience a combination of several of these signs, consider taking steps to reassess your workload.
Here are common indications that you may have too much work:
Tips for managing your workflow
You might discover that instead of having too much work, you can benefit from using your time at work more productively. If thats true, consider these options for managing your workflow more effectively:
Create a prioritized task list
Its possible that, rather than reducing your workload, you simply need to re-prioritize your tasks. It might help to take the time to write down all of your tasks, list the due date for each, note how long each should take and put them in order of priority. This way, you know when you need to begin each task to ensure you have enough time to meet your deadlines.
Work on your time management
If you spend more time browsing the internet or other non-work activities than completing work, you might need to improve your time management. This might be especially true if you find deadlines difficult to meet. Eliminating distractions, such as setting specific times to look at your phone or check your email, can help you focus on completing more work before your deadlines.
Schedule your tasks
It might also be helpful to develop a daily schedule. Determining the best way to use your time can help you focus on completing more work and help reduce your task list. For example, you might spend each morning reviewing the previous days work, then fixing any errors or completing anything unfinished. Before lunch, you might develop a strategy for completing your next project. Following this plan, for the rest of the day after lunch, you might work exclusively on that project.
Make time for breaks
If your workload leaves you feeling fatigued, taking a short break, getting a snack, drinking some water or taking a brief walk outside might give you the right amount of energy to complete your tasks. These types of breaks can help you relax and focus on your project. While your workload remains the same, this step helps bring more positivity to your work, which can increase productivity.
How do I get over too much work?
- Sleep disorders like insomnia or overall poor sleep patterns.
- Feeling distracted with every task.
- A weakened immune system.
- Lack of energy for simple tasks.
- A disregard for the importance of sleep.
- Mood swings with negative self-talk.
- Difficulties balancing a social and work-life.