Everyone can agree we are living in stressful times right now, and with our changing and uncertain circumstances it is easy to feel overwhelmed and lost. Statistically, in 2020 Americans reported the collective highest stress levels in almost fifteen years, which was unanimously due to the global pandemic that introduced new restrictions and fears. Now, in 2021, the world is still feeling many of the effects of 2020, as health restrictions, remote work, increased social distancing, and an inability to return to life completely as normal have continued this year. If you feel overwhelmed in your personal, social, or work life it is completely understandable. However, you surely also want to know how to fix your feelings of overwhelm to get yourself back to normal levels of productivity. We have asked top industry professionals what they recommend for anyone who feels overwhelmed by their workload, and have compiled their responses for a one-stop shop for advice on how to resolve your stress. Keep reading to learn what measures you can take to stop feeling overwhelmed at work!
Chaos leads to heightened stress, but an organized life and desk lead to calmed nerves and increased productivity, so you should start with these organizational methods.
Make a To-Do List (Or Many)
'I love getting organized in order to stay on task during my week and reduce anxiety about all I need to get done. There is something that feels so manageable about gathering all your tasks and deadlines into one place and plotting them out. I write everything down into a to-do list including the main deadlines, the steps I need to complete on particular days leading up to assignments in order to have the project completed on time, and the steps I need to take in order to collect enough data. Because I usually have multiple projects on the go at once, I'm a big fan of color coding different assignments for additional organization. And I don't just plot out my week, but also my day, my month, and sometimes even my year as far as marking big deadlines into my calendar far in advance and getting started early if I have any additional time. It is so much more difficult to feel overwhelmed when your steps are mapped out for you.'
Nancy Belcher, CEO of Winona
Make Your Schedule Far In Advance
'My top tip for staying organized to avoid becoming overwhelmed is to map out my schedule for the week and the month so I always know what to expect with my time. It can be so easy to double book yourself or overschedule your week, so detailing everything into your calendar is immensely useful to avoid any mixups.'
Dylan Arthur Garber, Co-Founder of Audien Hearing
Match Your Schedule on All Platforms
'Every working professional should utilize calendar apps in order to stay organized. I always find that staying organized helps to prevent me from feeling overwhelmed. There are a large number of fantastic, easy to use scheduling and calendar apps. I like to use the calendar on my phone and sync it with my computer in order to always have it on hand. At work I have the Google Calendar feature set up and I sync my schedule on all my calendar platforms so I do not overbook myself. I even write events and assignments down in a paper calendar because I like to make handwritten notes and checkmarks for an extra feeling of accomplishment. Don't forget to also set reminders for yourself on your calendar apps. The more locations you make a note of something, the less likely you are to miss or forget something.'
Anthony Puopolo, CMO of REX MD
Th ugly side of feeling overwhelmed is the stress and anxiety that start to seep into your daily life. Deadlines, tasks, and events can be like pressures weighing on you and commanding your time when you have too much on your plate at once. It is imperative that you reduce your stress and anxiety levels if you feel overwhelmed so that your attitude about work does not become one of negativity and avoidance. These steps should help you to lighten your stress as you remove your overwhelm.
Separate Your Work and Personal Life
'If you feel overwhelmed at work, be sure to define the boundary between your work life and personal life now more than ever. You don't want to bring any anxiety and negativity home so that it bothers and consumes your thoughts even once you are in your relaxation space. Of course, it is important to foster a personal life that you can bring your stresses and less positive feelings into in order to have a support group, but you should be able to keep your work and personal lives separate if and when you choose to do so. Something that I find helps me clarify the divide between work and home is to leave work at the office, or at your metaphorical office if you're working remotely, like keeping your work confined to your working hours and to a specific location. I do this by not syncing up my work calendar with my personal calendar so when I'm with my friends and family I don't have to keep my mind on my work tasks. Give yourself a break from work when you are enjoying home time.'
Anthony Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of Sticker Mule
Open Up About How You Feel
'If you feel overwhelmed at work, make sure you open up about how you feel to others in your company. Express your struggles and feelings to your team members who assign the tasks to you so they will understand what your limits are. By having open communication, your team members will be aware of what they can do to help, including how much work they can place on you at once. Perhaps the workload is normal but there are certain circumstances in your life that make it too much right now; they need to know this to adjust accordingly and support you through what you're experiencing. Maybe a solution will come up to redistribute the work into a lengthened time frame. You will never know what is possible if you don't ask. Know that your workspace is a safe space for you to be honest and real.'
Matthew Mundt, Founder and CEO of Hug Sleep
Consider Your Situation
'Take some time to consider your situation and all that is contributing to your feelings of being overwhelmed. Is it the normal amount of work but there are situations in your life that make it feel like more than is possible right now? You should be honest and explain this to your superiors so they can work with you to make you feel better, knowing you will be happier, healthier, and more productive. Or, did you overassign yourself your tasks and take on too much work? If that is the case, ask what were your reasons and intentions behind taking on a higher workload. Perhaps they were healthy and due to a desire to help more or offer your area of expertise. But this will also show you if the reason was not healthy and allow you to examine the feelings behind this. Did your team members over assign you tasks? If so, talk to them about the effects it is having and discuss how much work would be possible. De-stressing often comes down to talking it through and communicating your findings to others.'
Jae Pak, Founder of Jae Pak MD Medical
Structure Your Time
If you have a lot on your plate and are beginning to feel overwhelmed by all of it, it is important to structure your time well in order to effectively work through your assignments. While some tasks and deadlines can be moved or changed, once you do have your set amount of work, you can reduce your anxiety by using your time wisely and constantly working towards the end goals. These tips will help you be your most productive self in order to get down to business!
Work During Your Most Productive Hours
'Completing work when you don't feel motivated or productive makes the tasks seem a thousand times more difficult and can actually increase your stress if you feel it is causing a mental block. If you have the freedom to build your own schedule, perhaps with remote work or if you largely work independently, schedule yourself to work during the hours you know you are the most productive. Whether you determine your daily hours or not, always plan your day to get the most work done when you are generally the most focused and energized. Maybe this is the morning for you, or after lunch once you've fully woken up. It certainly helps to know yourself and cater to your needs.'
Ryan Rockefeller, Co-Founder and CEO of Cleared
'Don't burn yourself out by working for too long at a time in order to get everything done. Statistics show that you are more productive and creative if you give yourself frequent short breaks. During this time, it helps to stand up and walk around if you have been sitting. Be careful not to turn your focus onto anything else that will prevent you from fully returning to your tasks, but even socializing with your team members during your breaks can help to boost your mood and reset your focus for when you return.'
Cindy Le, Co-Founder and COO of Revela
'Oftentimes looking at your workload as a whole just feels like too much, so then take it in small manageable slices and work on one task at a time. Maybe you need to just focus on one thing today, or one thing before lunch and another afterwards. Don't let yourself feel overwhelmed due to the sheer amount of items on your to-do list. Prioritise what is most important and focus on that.'
Dan Musson, Co-Founder of DanSoap
'When you need to work hard and get a lot done, it helps to limit distractions. For a lot of people this often looks like silencing their phones and tablets from sending notifications, because it can be so easy to slip into a notification check blackhole. Placing your phone across the room or just silencing it and placing it out of sight is a useful strategy. But distractions that prevent you from completing your work can also look like conversations with other people who stop by your desk. While conversing with your co-workers helps to foster a positive work environment, when you know you have a big deadline and need to work uninterrupted, don't be afraid to let others know you need a temporary distraction-free zone.'
Lauren Kleinman, Co-Founder of The Quality Edit
Start With What is Most Manageable
'If you are starting to feel overwhelmed at work, start working on what feels the most manageable. Some people prefer to work on one task at a time and complete it, and if this works for you then absolutely stick with your solution for success. Breaking off your total workload into smaller bites can be immensely helpful for reducing stress. On the other hand, sometimes certain tasks take a large amount of mental energy and others are just busy work but both need to be done. In this case, I recommend dedicating time to the mentally consuming one when you're feeling focused and productive and switching over to some mindless busy work when you need a break. Sometimes switching back and forth between tasks can be just the thing you need to keep you working all day.'
Michael Jankie, Founder of The Natural Patch Co
With these tips from industry professionals on what to do when you feel overwhelmed by your workload, you can reduce your stress levels and still work productively. By getting organized, taking the necessary steps to de-stress your work situation, and structuring your time for ultimate success, you should find yourself feeling better about work in no time. It is such a relief to look at your workload and know that you can get everything done, and it feels great to then start working. Hopefully these tips will make you prepared to start working on your tasks without any stress.