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Lifeworks: Overload at Work

You aren’t alone if you often feel overloaded at work. More than two-thirds of US workers suffer from work overload, according to Kelton Research/Cornerstone. Overload can increase your stress and make you feel out of control even if you enjoy your job.

Stress and overload can also affect your productivity, work relationships, and performance. If you are working longer hours or feel overwhelmed by all that you have to do, you may be experiencing overload at work. If the fast pace that was once challenging starts instead to leave you feeling drained, that may be a sign of overload. Learning to cope with your workload can reduce your stress and help you stay productive and valuable to your organization.

Gaining understanding and control of your workload

Here are ways to gain control of your workload:

  • Realize that you can reduce overload. There may be parts of your job that you can’t control, such as seasonal variations in workload. But you can control how you prepare for the peak season. Focus on what you can change, not what you can’t.
  • Know your limits. Some people thrive on a heavy workload, while others feel stressed by small increases in their responsibilities. If you’re assigned a project that you know will be very challenging, start looking for help and for solutions before you feel overwhelmed by a task.
  • Review your responsibilities. Has your job changed recently? If you have greater responsibility, you may still be adjusting to new demands.
  • Decide if your workload is likely to ease. Is some of your overload caused by a temporary situation, such as a co-worker on leave? It may help to know there’s relief in sight.
  • Talk about the workload. Rather than complaining to co-workers, talk with a mentor or trusted friend who understands and sympathizes with the pressures you face.
  • Explore solutions to personal concerns that are contributing to your stress. If you have a partner, get his or her ideas on this. Could you hire a house-cleaning service or could your partner take over some of your household chores for a while? If you’re caring for an aging parent, consider using short-term respite care for occasional relief.
  • Consider meeting with your manager or human resources (HR). Your manager or HR may suggest ways to handle the situation or tell you about helpful resources.

Other ways to reduce overload

  • Cut back on other commitments until your workload eases. When you’re overloaded, a good rule of thumb is to drop one old commitment when you take on a new one.
  • Set aside time each day to do something you enjoy. This will help you avoid becoming burned out at work. Make time for friends, family, relaxation, exercise, or spiritual activities that have meaning for you.
  • Focus on leaving work on time. If you tend to work late, start with leaving on time just one or two days a week. A little less time at work may lead to increased focus, energy, and productivity when you’re there.
  • Take vacations. Getting away provides more than a way to relax and unwind. It also gives you psychological distance from your workplace helping you to recharge and return to your job with a new outlook. Employees who don’t take vacations because of work pressures feel even more overworked. And yet, many Americans have days of paid vacation left over at the end of the year.

We all want to feel challenged and excited about our work, and we want to know that it’s manageable and under control. With the right tools and support, you can achieve this goal.

Call LifeWorks at 888-267-8126 or visit (username: theaaa; password: lifeworks).

Employee Assistance Program, lifeworks

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