10 Tips for Managing Your Heavy Workload

Maybe you are being particularly ambitious at the office and have asked for as much work as your supervisors can dump on you. Or, perhaps an overburdened “to-do” list has crept up on you, and you are only just now – with rising panic – realizing the hole you have dug yourself into.

Managing a heavy workload is something many professionals deal with at one point or another, and sometimes on a weekly basis. It is essential to approach the heavy workload wisely; not only to ensure you are doing the best job you can, but to avoid burnout. Let’s briefly run through 10 strategies for successfully handling a Goliath-sized workload.  

1. Establish a workable system of organization

Plowing heedlessly into that pile of work likely will not get you anywhere. You need a system of organization to guide your efforts. Define a realistic timetable that also jibes with your boss’s expectations, sort the incremental tasks from the large-scale ones, and look ahead to identify potential problems or time-sensitive needs you want to head off at the pass.

2. Use lists to stay focused

If you are not accustomed to making them regularly, checklists may seem a waste of time. Lists, though, can become critical guideposts or lifelines when you are up to your ears in work and are struggling to get your bearings. Use them to winnow an intimidating project down to manageable small-scale missions, and consult and adjust them at the start and end of each workday.

3. Choose logical stopping points

Speaking of the end of your workday, make sure to leave off at a logical point. Wrap up loose ends and know the gameplan for tomorrow (or Monday) morning. This keeps your efforts streamlined and wards against procrastination.

4. Stick to a schedule

Once you’ve established a time frame for your work, try to stick with it as best you can. That does not mean you can’t tweak it to reflect reality, but try to respect it: Willy-nilly changing your schedule, especially because of momentary distractions or doubts, can set you way off course in the long run.

5. Avoid accepting more work than you can handle

It is all too easy to say “yes” to every assignment a supervisor or coworker brings your way. Know your limits and stick to them. Even if you have to pass up a promising project, you are improving your position in the long run by maintaining a high quality of work (and, not incidentally, taking care of yourself).

6. Restrict correspondence to discrete periods

Do not sabotage your workday by falling down the rabbit-hole of emailing. As part of establishing and adhering to a schedule, devote a consistent (and modest) portion of the day to handling correspondence.

7. Focus on one task at a time

Though we seem to live in the age that values multitasking above all else, research suggests human beings are not particularly good at it. Instead of dissipating your energy and effectiveness across three or four different daily projects, focus on one task at a time. You will do better work and make greater progress.

8. Slow your pace

Connected to the preceding point, slowing your work pace can, surprisingly, improve your performance. As with multitasking, it is tempting to motor through the day’s duties, but adopting a more temperate rate allows you to more powerfully focus your energies.

9. Give yourself time off

Do not fill every waking hour with work. That is a trap that can degrade the caliber of your final product and, more importantly, destroy your qualify of life. Regular breaks, including mental breaks where you do not think about the office at all, are actually essential to getting the job done.

10. Ask for help

Do not be too proud or scared to ask for assistance. Your higher-ups will be much happier that you are seeking help in order to most effectively complete your tasks rather than going it alone and thereby falling behind or delivering an inferior product.

Learning how to manage an enormous workload takes practice, but it is a skill that will serve you throughout your professional career.   

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