18 ways to tackle the feeling of being overwhelmed at work
From practicing mindfulness to making lists, here are the 18 answers to the question, “Can you share your best tips for tackling the feeling of being overwhelmed at work?”
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- Practice Mindfulness
- Set Aside Time for Yourself
- Focus on How You Help Others
- Be Mindful About Workday Triggers and Plan Solutions
- Eat the Frog
- Try the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
- Keep Some Perspective
- Speak to Management Immediately
- Create a “5-a-Day” Ritual
- Learn to Delegate
- Break Down Large Tasks
- Say “No” Effectively
- Find a Good Listener
- Use Technology to Propel Your Tasks
- Take Breaks
- Get Adequate Sleep
- Use Time to Prioritize
- Conquer Overwhelm With Lists
Training your brain to quickly bounce back into the present moment is one of the best mental health hacks there is. As a business leader, there are moments when anxiety tries to get the best of me, but I know worrying can’t change the past or future.
When I find myself in these times of uncertainty, I immediately take some deep breaths and notice my surroundings by observing my senses. What do I see, hear, smell, and touch? Then, I recite a few positive affirmations like, “I am calm. I am joyful. Everything is working out.”
Jae Pak, MD, Jae Pak MD Medical
Set Aside Time for Yourself
Make sure you set aside time each day to do things for yourself. We spend a big part of our lives at work, and it’s easy to feel burnt out if that’s all you’re focused on.
Hard work and productivity are important, but so is taking care of your physical and mental health. Making time to do something you enjoy, whether that’s reading a book, getting in a workout, or something else entirely will help you feel you have a better work-life balance.
Take a deep breath and approach each day feeling more refreshed.
Rachel Roff, Founder & CEO, Urban Skin Rx
Focus on How You Help Others
One of the best practices for beating that overwhelmed feeling at work is to look for what gives you meaning and satisfaction.
You can still find joy and purpose when you don’t necessarily love your job. Focus on how your contributions help others. Remember those aspects you especially enjoy, like visiting with coworkers at lunch.
This realignment in your perspective can help you regain a sense of control and purpose in your work, so you don’t feel you’re spinning your wheels all the time, which can lead to burnout.
Marcus Hutsen, Business Development Manager, Patriot Coolers
Be Mindful About Workday Triggers and Plan Solutions
When you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s hard to know your next step. Most people think the only way to deal with being overwhelmed is to immediately put the brakes on what they’re doing and re-evaluate their priorities.
Unfortunately, most people can’t do that with their day-to-day jobs. Instead, try to be more mindful about what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, and how those tasks are contributing to the feeling of overwhelm.
For example, many people feel that checking their inbox is a trigger that makes them feel behind. Instead of keeping your email open all day, you can try checking it only three times a day, once in the morning, at lunchtime, and before leaving the office for the day. This helps batch your email tasks, so they don’t run or detract from your daily routine.
Being mindful enough to recognize these triggers and plan common-sense strategies around them can help ease you out of an overwhelming spiral and improve your work/life balance.
Shawn Plummer, CEO, The Annuity Expert
Eat the Frog
The secret to overcoming overwhelm lies in time management and prioritizing your tasks. I’ve survived some of the toughest of days as a business owner by “eating the frog.” I learned this technique from Brian Tracy, a famous motivational speaker.
The idea is to rank your tasks by the level of physical and mental energy required. The most exhausting ones should take top priority. Then, focus on tackling the most overwhelming responsibility first thing in the day.
By placing it at the top of your schedule (and completing it first), you’ll automatically free up your plate for the rest of your day. Even the remaining tasks will feel like less of a burden once you’ve gotten that frog out of the way!
Stephan Baldwin, Founder, Assisted Living Center
Try the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
People commonly refer to this technique as EFT tapping because it involves tapping on meridian points on the body. It is used to relieve anxiety and pain.
There are videos on YouTube that can show you how to do this, but basically, you tap on these points seven times each while repeating a phrase like, “I release and let it go” or “I am safe.”
This technique was developed by a man named Gary Craig, who believed a disruption in energy causes all negative emotions and pain. Tapping on meridian points helps to restore that balance.
Michael Green, Co-Founder, Winona
Keep Some Perspective
It’s important to keep in mind that after all, it’s just work. If you drop the ball, it really isn’t the end of the world.
Second, I like to ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen if I fail? Maybe my boss would come and complain, or maybe I would even lose my job. But that is not the end, that’s a new beginning. And knowing that life (and your career) goes on even if you fail is exactly what helps to not be too overwhelmed at work.
Nina Joanna, Productivity Expert, Goals Calling
Speak to Management Immediately
The worst thing you can do when feeling overwhelmed at work is to not tell anyone. Whether it’s a case of work build-up that is reallocated to you, or you simply do not have the capacity for extra work, it’s imperative that you speak to management immediately to outline the issue.
The longer things are left, the worse it’s going to make you feel. Voice your concerns as soon as possible to come to a resolution with management in line with realistic requirements for your workload.
Tracey Beveridge, HR Director, Personnel Checks
Create a “5-a-Day” Ritual
As a business owner, I have a lot to do every day. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and in the past, I would try to do everything and anything, and end up doing nothing. I would react to every email or phone call that came in and then discover that nothing productive had been done.
Every morning, what I do now before I start work, is to do my 5-a-day. What I mean by this is writing the five most important priorities that need to get done on that day. It usually involves mainly business-related items, but can also include things that are good for my health, such as going to the gym. By the end of the day, the goal is to get those five things done. Nothing else, just those five things.
If something extremely urgent comes up, of course, I’ll deal with it. But otherwise, anything new can be pushed to the next day. This keeps me focused on my chief priorities and definitely stops being overwhelmed. It’s been a life-changer.
Ravi Davda, CEO, Rockstar Marketing
Learn to Delegate
One of the biggest problems for people in management positions is their inability to delegate and being overwhelmed by the number of tasks they have to do themselves.
In order to grow and be successful, a person needs to focus on doing specific tasks and delegate to other employees to work together on each person’s strengths. When sharing the workload across the board and hiring experts to perform tasks instead of being a one-person show, the results are so much better, they’re less time-consuming and the feeling of being overwhelmed magically disappears.
Jenna Nye, CEO, On the Strip
Break Down Large Tasks
My single best tip for tackling the feeling of being overwhelmed at work is to break down enormous tasks into smaller, manageable steps. For example, if you are feeling overwhelmed by a large project, set some time aside to plan out each step you will need to take in order to complete it.
Focus on one step at a time, prioritizing the most important tasks first. This will help focus your energy on each task and prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed.
One key to success with this approach is ensuring that you account for all steps. It is important to create a system of checks and balances to ensure that no steps are skipped, as this can be a major contributor to feelings of overwhelm. Additionally, it is important not to take on too many steps at once, as this can lead to feelings of discouragement.
Prioritizing tasks and taking them one at a time is key.
John White, Director, We Run
Say “No” Effectively
Set proper boundaries on your time and workload by saying “no” to additional tasks that pull you away from your major responsibilities and from having ample free time to rest. Feeling overwhelmed comes from having too much on your plate, which is why it’s important to firmly refuse to take on more tasks than you can realistically handle.
Setting proper boundaries also entails leaving the workplace at a specific time each day, and refusing to succumb to the pressure of working late nights and during weekends so that you can chip away at your workload.
It’s also important to challenge your assumptions about your own productivity that keep you chained to old patterns, which are leaving you constantly feeling overwhelmed.
Mark McShane, Managing Director, Sheffield First Aid Courses
Find a Good Listener
If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your job, beat the workplace stress by reaching out to someone close to you. Sometimes, simply sharing your problems with someone with a listening ear can help reduce them.
Getting support and sympathy as you talk it out, particularly face-to-face, is a highly effective way of blowing off steam. Plus, you’ll regain a sense of calm.
The other person doesn’t need to be a problem fixer, just a sympathetic listener. Open up to someone you trust, and it will work wonders at bringing you peace of mind, especially in the workplace.
Nick Wallace, Co-Founder, President, & Chief Farm Officer, 99 Counties
Use Technology to Propel Your Tasks
Using technology at the workplace shows how tech-driven your company or job position is and how you use technology to propel tasks that may otherwise leave you overwhelmed.
Your motivation comes not from the number of tasks you take on, but from the success you achieve through them. And if tech tools and platforms have the answers to most of your work tasks, there’s no reason to push these solutions away. The sooner you adopt tech solutions, the more time and energy you will have to concentrate on core responsibilities.
Brendan McGreevy, Head of Strategy, Affinda
Make sure you’re taking breaks. If you feel you have a million tasks to get through, the last thing to do is stop in between them to relax. This is so important.
If you never give yourself a second to breathe, the stress you’re feeling will accumulate. At that point, any tasks you do will feel overwhelming. If you take breaks and give yourself a chance to recover in between, it’ll help you process things in a more relaxed way.
Carrie Shaltz Haslup, Founder & CEO, Tabeeze
Get Adequate Sleep
I tell every new hire that you’re going to have good days and bad days—just get more sleep to make tomorrow a better day. It’s a great way to tackle the feeling of being overwhelmed by a bad day at work.
Getting a good night’s rest will help you reset your mind and body, enabling you to come back to work feeling refreshed and better able to handle whatever challenges the day ahead may bring.
Additionally, getting a good night’s rest can also help put you in a better frame of mind, allowing you to approach the day with a positive attitude that can help you overcome any obstacles.
Marc Werner, CEO & Founder, GhostBed
Use Time to Prioritize
Having a clear idea about the things that need to be done does the trick for me. When you get confused about what to do, it’s the moment you put it off. The key here is to prioritize and make a list, and the best way to approach it is to figure out how long it would take to complete each of those tasks.
Emailing would not take the same time as writing a complete report on something. Whatever tasks you have pending, quickly go through them. Organize by the time it will take to handle them and you already have a solid plan to work on.
As you get a clear picture, you will feel more like you are in charge. You need to know that you have everything under control to tackle the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Work is never fun as much as we claim it to be. The least we can do is gamify it to make the experience rewarding. The feeling of accomplishment can keep us going, which is exactly the boost we need.
Andreas Grant, Founder, Networks Hardware
Conquering Overwhelm With Lists
When feeling overwhelmed at work, one of the best things to do is to pause; take a few deep breaths, create a list of everything that needs to be done, and then, ask yourself why.
Why something needs to be done is critical. The list will help prioritize how to proceed and how to manage your time.
Geralin Thomas, Professional Organizer, Metropolitan Organizing, LLC