Sometimes the circumstances force you to take on more work than you can actually handle. How do you cram twice as much work in the same time….
In my student days it was a frequently used assessment, the card catalog. The applicant receives an enormous amount of information and does not get enough time to go through it. How the applicant deals with it says a lot about his ability to prioritize. But what if your entire working week is a large card catalog. If you have chronically too much work?
You can be busy and you can be busy. In one case you are focused all day, do lots of work and at the end of the day you have a very satisfied feeling about yourself. You fixed that nicely.
Behind the facts
In the second case of being busy you follow the facts. Every mail that comes in feels like an extra amount of work, colleagues who drop by to ask something(s) are unwelcome , and if someone asks how things are going, you can only produce some sort of incomprehensible murmur. Not feeling satisfied at the end of the day, just the question of what you have done with your time all day. What you were so stressed out, you can’t even reproduce anymore.
It is that second form of pressure that leads to burnout. Because if something leads to stress, it is the loss of control, the feeling of being lived.
It’s hard enough to keep control of your own work. Books have been written full of techniques to increase your concentration, set priorities and close yourself off for distraction. But what if the circumstances are just not going well? What if the amount of work suddenly increases, for example because a colleague is sick who is not being replaced? If a big new project comes in and the people are not in favor of it or if a lot of extra work is just put down for you?
No more hours
Whatever the reason may be, many people have to deal with increasing amounts of work and keeping up with that can be difficult. So how do you prevent this by working more and then buffering in the evening and at the weekend, and in this way working yourself into a burnout? A few simple steps can help.
The first step is to stand still and see how you stand. Are you unmotivated, do your colleagues snub and are you actually always tired? Then there is a good chance that you are already well on the way to a burnout. If that is the case, you must change your habits as quickly as possible. For more about recognizing a burnout in time.
Then it is important to zoom out to get the bigger picture back in sight. Accept that you will not get everything done. So don’t start doing things like a headless chicken, but take the time to set priorities. The chance is small that there are things in it that you can skip, but start with the most urgent things.
Then it is good to remember that you are not alone in your company and that there are people you can ask for help. Even though it’s not what you want, and it feels like you’re failing, it’s your boss’s job to make sure you can do your job well. So make use of that. Nobody can do anything about it if you fall over because of the stress because you did not ring the bell in time.
To prevent you from feeling that you are lazy or to moan, it helps to frame the reasons that you do not want to do extra work in the interest of the team. With all the work you get put on your plate, ask yourself: am I the best person to do this, and who on the team can help me with this?
And an important lesson that I am now learning: no is also an answer. So is there a colleague next to your desk with a request for something he could do well himself? Does your boss have a nice plan again that will give you a lot of extra work? Just say no. That not only works best for you, but also for your team. If everyone knows where he stands, you will get further.