For most professionals, workloads shift and move many different directions throughout a year. How do you handle the ups and downs that could spell the difference between taking your career to the next level and drowning in your to-do lists? If you learn to balance your heavy workload, you just might be able to avoid the dreaded burnout and find some peace of mind. With the coronavirus still very much apart of our daily lives the importance of balance in our lives has never been more important than it is today.
Here are four steps to get you started.
What are your methods for prioritizing assignments? How do you differentiate between the “needs to get done asap” tasks and the “doesn’t need to be done until year-end” tasks? No matter your process, it’s crucial to start breaking down your items in a more realistic and specific way to get moving through your workload.
When prioritizing your items for a specific day, try to determine the one task that needs to be your number one priority that day. At the end of the day, this one item needs to be complete or, for some long-term projects, at least started. This should help you in setting your focus and getting the highest priority task done first.
Remember, although all items might seem important, it is necessary to realize what level of importance they fall into. Are they relevant only to you and your goals? Are they meaningful for the objectives of your team? Are they critical to building revenue? Are they based on a deadline?
When setting your priorities for the day, week or month, try to consider how they relate to your overall goals. Making sure your priorities align with your set goals (whether personal or professional) can also help you determine how important that task really is at any given time.
With a little planning and prioritization on a daily and weekly basis all items will get done but more efficiently and effectively.
Know when to say no
We can all sometimes be a ‘yes man.’ We want to be able to do everything and take on any responsibility thrown at us. In the past, you may have said yes to everything when it came to your career. You say yes to this project and that favor and the result was an unsurmountable workload. For a while you can push through and get everything done, but as soon as you say yes again the heavy workload reappears. I’ve slowly learned that sometimes being a “no man” can help benefit my career versus hurt it.
Take the project that you were just offered. Does the project help you and your career grow? Did someone ask you to do that project because of the value you would bring to it? Or did they ask you because they know you would say yes and do it anyway? Sometimes, saying no can increase the overall value of the things we do say yes to. Think about that project and determine what type of focus you can and want to give it. Does it move you or give you passion? Does it make you happy to work on it? Can you give it the attention it deserves? Knowing what the benefits are of saying no in certain situations and knowing the right way to say it does have the possibility of working you towards a successful career.
Leverage unique abilities
Your co-workers can be a fundamental part of helping you balance a full workload. By using their unique abilities, you can apply a whole other set of experiences, expertise and knowledge to your projects and tasks. Don’t be afraid to reach out. For some of your to-dos, having an extra hand or resource may be the difference between you getting the job done and coming up short on the assignment.
When you recognize the need for help when you are extremely busy, you can see that the expertise of other people within your firm can help you move through and get out from underneath many of your daunting tasks.
Take time to breathe
Sometimes the simplest way to take a break from a stressful assignment or work load is to just breathe. Take five minutes and focus on something else that won’t elevate where your current stress level. Take a moment and walk around your office to enjoy a bit of exercise and fresh air. It is important to realize that another part of balance is also including in some of those “life things” that can calm you down and bring you back to the center.
Remember that dealing with a constantly heavy workload isn’t just more likely to lead to burnout. It also drives you to work longer hours and may even impact your ability to relax outside of work. So successful workload management is critically important to your overall job satisfaction. Do what you can to prioritize, delegate and just say no when needed. You won’t always be able to avoid the pressure of looming deadlines and competing priorities, but in those times just remember these few words: This too shall pass.
As the Director of Project Management for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Erin plans, organizes, secures and manages resources for the firm’s many service and program areas, including providing assistance and constant communication with clients and sponsors and serving as an even liaison. Her primary duties include overseeing and managing the specifics of all Boomer Consulting, Inc. communities, such as the Boomer Technology Circles, CIO Circle, Managing Partner Circle, Advisor Circle, Talent Circle, Lean Circle, NextGen Circle and the P3 Leadership Academy.”