You have to get immersed deeply in your everyday tasks and projects if you are to gain work experience, earn promotions, and grow professionally. But then, the more you strive to prove your competence, the more the responsibilities you are tasked with. Professional growth aside, sometimes you might be too desperate for job stability that you end up settling for an employer who overworks you without promising any growth prospects. Those two situations might be different, but they both will precipitate mounting workloads.
Health or productivity?
Dealing with huge workloads can be a constant struggle. The sad thing is that overworking can jeopardize your work-life balance, which, consequently, can jeopardize your mental and physical health. Having to put in more hours than what your job description dictates can also make you lose interest in your work, and that will certainly hurt your productivity. Poor health and low productivity will, in turn, slow down your career development.
With that in mind, how can you handle more work and longer hours without jeopardizing your health or productivity? Consider these three tips.
1. Keep off multitasking
It is okay to handle a couple of tasks simultaneously if you are extremely organized, but you should be careful not to dilute quality in the process. Multitasking becomes counterproductive in most cases because it forces you to divide your attention and effort between two responsibilities, so you either fail to meet one of two deadlines, or you meet both deadlines but fail to achieve the set standards, or you produce quality work for all assignments within the set timelines but you end up burning yourself out.
Missing one deadline means having to explain to your bosses and clients, and that is never fun. Producing substandard quality on an important assignment, on the other hand, could mean having to repeat the job (more unwanted work) if you are lucky or damaging your reputation if you are unlucky. If you burn out, you will not be optimally productive in subsequent tasks, and that will lower your productivity and lead to more tasks piling up. Bottom line: Rarely will you win when multitasking.
If your job involves sending multiple files over Email, a tool that was not designed for sending large files, it is best that you compress and archive all your files into a single RAR file and send them all at once. That will free up some time for you to squeeze in a few small tasks in between projects so you don’t need to multitask later on.
2. Leverage your strengths
Everyone has unique strengths that they can leverage when struggling with high volumes of work. Maybe you are good at creating a positive environment around you and inspiring your team members to challenge their limits. Maybe you are good at memorizing data so you don’t have to keep referring to source documents. Maybe you are such a great listener that you grasp instructions fast and accurately, so you don’t need to keep checking in with the bosses for clarifications. Maybe you are good at committing to your goals, so you can easily motivate yourself to work harder by aligning your assignment with your ambitions. All these are strengths that can help you scale down job frustrations and beat deadlines with relative ease. Focus on growing them and bringing them to the table whenever your job demands that you outdo yourself.
On the flipside, everyone has weaknesses that, if not navigated carefully, can precipitate frustration and the feeling of overwhelm. If you have low self-esteem, you are a perfectionist, you crumble under pressure, you underperform when the competition gets too much, or suffer from poor self-efficacy, among other weaknesses, it is best that you seek professional help. Everyone has a weakness- find yours and get it treated!
3. Set achievable deadlines and then prioritize
If you are at liberty to set your own deadlines for as long as the overall project deadline is met, you should be careful with the timelines you set for yourself. Ensure that the timelines are reasonable in that they leave you enough room for a healthy work-life balance, they don’t overwhelm you or burn you out, and that they accommodate everything in the to-do list. After setting the timelines, determine which tasks should be prioritized and then focus all your energy on what really matters.
Final thoughts: Don’t chase perfection
You can do everything we have advised you to do but if you keep working on the same task over and over to make it perfect, you will struggle to complete projects on time. So, as much as you cannot be excused for a substandard or mediocre final product, in whatever you do, don’t waste your time on perfectionism!