3 Ways to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed with Work

We’ve all experienced moments where we feel overwhelmed with work. But this past year–between dealing with the pandemic, working from home, and high levels of global uncertainty–feeling overwhelmed has gone from a momentary annoyance to a constant menace. Feeling overwhelmed isn’t about not working hard enough or long enough. It’s a crisis of overcommitment, communication, prioritization, and uncertainty. Here are three ways to avoid feeling overwhelmed with work.

1. Understand what it is that’s causing you to feel overwhelmed:

In many circumstances, these are called “triggers.” Pay attention to the tasks or projects you’ve been putting off each week. Write down everything you do for work—what’s causing you to procrastinate rather than get them off your list? Should you be setting smaller goals? The mind can trick itself into thinking we want to do things when we really don’t. But the more your gut tells you not to do something, the more likely you are to push it aside and let it become a source of stress and overwhelm.

2. Boundaries:

Once you have your list of triggers, you can tackle those items you’ve been avoiding. This tactic will reduce stress and allow you to set boundaries throughout your day to help you alleviate those triggers. Set aside exact time slots to work on very specific tasks during the workday and then set up scheduled break times.

3. Talk yourself down:

Not everything has to be done by you or answered immediately. Have you ever thought, If I don’t do this myself, it won’t be done right, or I have to answer these emails now—even though it might be 8:00 at night! Prioritize what is urgent, what others can help with, and what can wait until the next day. If your workday has ended and you are still checking emails, then it’s a safe bet that you are creating a situation for yourself to become overwhelmed. Remind yourself that you have a team, that asking others to do things is ok and it will be done right, and that there needs to be a work/life balance.

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