What to do when you are overwhelmed by too much work

 

Did that ever happen to you? You have a long list of to-do’s, a couple of deadlines coming up in a few hours and you have no clue how to get it all done in time? You feel so overwhelmed by everything that you can’t even concentrate on getting your work done…

Well, that is exactly what happened to me yesterday. I spent a wonderful Sunday with my husband and zero work (I didn’t even check my emails). I had a few things planned for the day that I needed to get done before the week starts but my husband surprised me with lazy Sunday brunch (remember it was Valentine’s Day) and I just loved spending the whole day with him and not turning on my laptop to get to the work items that were pending…

Fast forward to Monday morning: I didn’t wake up on time (I was suppose to sit at my desk by 6.30am to work on the things I ignored the previous day) and as soon as I woke up, I had a call with one of my suppliers who couldn’t deliver an item on time. Are you kidding me, Monday morning? Before I even turned on my laptop, my mood was already ruined and again I saw my to-do-list with way to many tasks to complete in a single day.

Being overwhelmed by too much work and too little time, I started multi-tasking (the worst thing ever!)… With 20 windows open in my internet browser, a couple of excel sheets and a Skype call, my laptop too was overwhelmed and crashed. Oh no! I didn’t know whether I should shout or cry…

And that is when I realized that I had to calm down and re-focus on what really had to get done today before I could attempt any of my work.

Sounds familiar? Well, here are 3 things that I did yesterday that helped me to overcome my stress and helped me to focus on my work again:

  1. I de-cluttered and organized my work space –including my laptop desktop. Chaos on my desk symbolizes the chaos in my mind and when I clear the physical clutter my mind can focus better. (But make sure you don’t waste too much time doing a physical clean-up: I suggest max. 10 minutes)
  2. I went to the gym. I suggest you do 30 minutes of cardio exercise. I love to sweat out my stress. As a warm-up, I suggest you listen to your favorite songs and dance.
  3. I cleared my email inbox: one email at a time. Often we have so many unread emails in our inbox and many of them can be answered/worked upon within less than a minute. Ignore the emails that overwhelm you or need more time to act upon and instead focus on the quick ones like paying your phone bill, confirming a meeting, etc. Imagine you can reduce the clutter in your email inbox by 20 emails in 20 minutes.

And suddenly, I felt back in control. I then took my to-do-list and marked the items that could not wait for tomorrow and wrote them on to a new piece of paper. Prioritizing is very important –especially when you run your own business and you have to play multiple roles. Know exactly what MUST BE DONE and what are add-on items on your list that can wait or be done by someone else.

Writing the ABSOLUTE MUST DO’s on an extra list (and keeping the other list away) helped me to realize what I need to focus on.

Please let me know in the comments below if these tips help you as well and also if you have some more advice for everyone who feels overwhelmed by too much work.