Tim Gallwey, the former tennis pro who’s considered to be one of the founders of the modern day coaching movement believes performance = potential – interference. We can think about this equation in lots of contexts. How you manage a heavy workload has a lot to do with these particular elements. Managing a heavy workload is about keeping up a level of performance worthy of your potential when you’ve got not enough time and too much interference. When you think about your potential, do you always have the wherewithal to do the work under pressure?
1. Avoid Distractions
It’s easy to be distracted from our work and it’s even easier to be distracted when we have a heavy workload. When we have an overwhelming amount to do, we sometimes want to be distracted; we want to have fun away from tasks because we have a fear of getting stuck in. However, the work isn’t going to go anywhere no matter how much we procrastinate, so it’s best to avoid distractions and get on with it, rather than seeking them out.
When we have a to-do list that’s dauntingly long, it can be hard to know where to start. Take a deep breath and re-organise that list so that your priorities are at the top. What are the tasks that need to be done the soonest, whether you want to do them now or not? Think about this question in terms of what will benefit the organisation and the organisation’s stakeholders.
3. Think Quality Not Quantity
The seemingly obvious thing to do is to work longer when trying to manage a workload that’s heavy. However, working longer hours may not always be the most appropriate thing to do. Instead, think about how to actually optimise your performance, so that you’re producing more and better work per hour rather than simply producing the same amount and standard of work over more hours.
4. Take it Out of Office
Optimising your performance may ironically mean working fewer hours in the office. This is not to say you’ll be working less hours overall. Seek permission from your boss to work remotely during times of high pressure in the office, as that way you’ll be less likely to get sucked into the on-site stress and tension, which can affect your performance.
5. Get Fitter
If you’ve been working until midnight every night this week, you may well be thinking that you need to make up for this sedentary state by upping your fitness regime. This is a good idea because the fitter we are, the greater levels of energy we have. You need as much as energy as possible during this time.
6. Take a Break
When you’re dealing with a heavy workload, you spend more time with colleagues and in an office environment when really you need to be taking more regular breaks. You’ll be working longer throughout the day and into the night and it’s important to take time for a little respite every now and again.
7. Report Back
Think about how you report your progress. What are the reporting processes at your work? If you get a process in place for regularly reporting back to your boss, he or she is more likely to be able to help you and to understand what your needs are during this time.
8. Use Technology
Just because you’re reporting back regularly to your manager, it doesn’t mean it has to take up a lot of your time. Even if you’re checking in with the boss twice a day at 9am and 5pm, you don’t need to be in the same room as them. You can just send a daily report by email or instant messenger so long as it’s there by the time it needs to be.
9. Ask for Help
Ask the boss about getting some of your colleagues to help you out. Think about how you can attract and connect with your co-workers during this busy period. For example, if your boss is expecting a report by the end of February and your heavy workload is pushing that into mid-march, ask a colleague to help write the report while you deal with the other stuff.
10. Deal with it Quickly
Periods where you’ll have a heavy workload are of course inevitable but the trick is to make sure these periods don’t drag on and merge into one another. Every time you have heavy workload, clear it as quickly as you can without compromising performance or professionalism. It’s really important that people recognize that a heavy workload is something that mustn’t turn into a long-term or regular state of affairs. That wouldn’t be beneficial in the long term to you, the team or the boss.
About the author
Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition, one of the UK’s leading career consultancy companies which created the Career Ignition Club, a leading-edge online careers support and learning platform. Follow him @PosIgnition