An increasing amount of people is feeling overwhelmed all the time at work. The amount of collaboration in the workplace is increasing at a staggering pace. Did you know that we’re spending 50 % more on collaborative work (such as answering emails) than we did 20 years ago? Unfortunately, not all this work is adding value to the companies we work for, but it does leave us overwhelmed after a day’s work and keeps us from doing our most important work. Moreover, the work and companies we work for are getting ever more complex.
Luckily, we don’t have to be the victim of this increased complexity and communication. Just check out my 4 tips below to prevent feeling overwhelmed!
1. Identify most important source of stress
This tip to prevent being overwhelmed is all about asking yourself one big question: “What tasks are causing me the majority of the stress at this moment?” This can be anything, ranging from your email inbox having exploded to the big project on which you need to spend half a day to finish. Once you’ve identified that major source of stress, make sure to focus on that item. If you need to, why don’t you clear your agenda and make sure you’re off the grit for a couple of hours? There’s only a few jobs in which real emergencies arise. In all other jobs it can wait. Trust me.
2. Make sure to set boundaries to stop feeling overwhelmed
Setting boundaries can help you to “time box” your activities. For instance, if you want to spend some time after work with the kids, just switch off your phone or don’t take any calls. This calls can usually wait until the kids are put to bed.
Also, say no more often to tasks that are not your responsibility. Moreover, if another colleague provides subpar work, it’s important to let that colleague solve the problem his or herself. Otherwise you’ll be the one solving all the sh#!t in your department. You need to prevent that, because in the long run this is also not beneficial for the colleagues delivering the subpar work: they never learn how to provide work of sufficient quality.
3. It doesn’t need to be perfect
When looking at your own work, it does not have to be perfect all of the time. Assess how the recipient will use your work and what his or her expectations are. Chances are they don’t need you to do it all or to do it perfectly.
Moreover, a lot of people want their email inbox to be all nicely labeled, clean and emails dropped in the appropriate folders. But what’s that going to bring you? You will not get a promotion for this, so why bother? Moreover, the search functionality in your inbox is getting better and better. Therefore, only use folders with automated rules and only manually drag and drop emails to folders if these are very important (frequency: once or twice a month, tops). The other emails you can usually find using the search function.
4. Paradigm shift required?
It is smart to discuss the points that make you feel overwhelmed with your manager, if she / he is open for this. Maybe the tasks that make you feel a lot of stress are not that important to your manager. If this is the case, you definitely need to rethink your priorities and it will also give you an opening with your manager to make suggestions to reduce your stress levels.
Examples could be to stop reporting certain metrics that nobody or just a few people are using, to outsource or automate the work etc.
That’s all! Thanks for reading this blog. Don’t forget to like and share and see you back here next week!
Further reads:Harvard Business Review: collaborative overload
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