(Closed) What to do when you are overworked and feeling overwhelmed?

posted 3 years ago in Career
Post # 2
Member
9560 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

make a list of everything you have to do and prioritize the items.

then tackle one item at a time.

Post # 4
Member
1640 posts
Bumble bee

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Mlim :  I agree with ajillity81 to make a list of tasks.  I would take it a step further.  I would also, as you noted, put in how much time, energy, skill, resources each task would take/need.  Then I would present it to the boss and ask them to help me prioritze.  I would set very firm boundaries, if you do 8 hours of work, don’t agree to to do list that has 10 hours of work on it.  If you end up with such a list, push back and ask your boss to help you create a plan.  

Also, look at the list.  Is there anything you can cutout, time filler.  Is there anything that can be delegated?  Also, can you just say no to some things?   

Post # 5
Member
1248 posts
Bumble bee

Getting a new boss is tough.  Put that on top of a company merger and it sounds like a double whammy.

My hospital has been going through some turmoil lately.  There have been layoffs and they’ve made some financial decisions that make no sense to those of us that actually work with the patients.  Similar to the position you’ve been put in, management keeps delegating tasks not understanding how much work goes into each.  Even though I’m in a different industry than you, I think what you’re experiencing is a common problem.

I also make a list of taks for the day and prioritize.  I’m not going to lie, it’s really hard to get 10 hours of work in an 8 hour day.  What helped us (a bit) was my coworkers banding together and going to management with our concerns about being overworked.  We wrote them down and presented them formally so it didn’t look like a bunch of whiny workers.  If things aren’t changed, we are going to HR next.  That obviously may not be an option at all companies but we have a formal chain of command we have to follow.

I agree with having to set boundaries as well.  Since he’s a new boss to you, he may be trying to feel you out to see how much he can get away with.  I know it’s really hard, but don’t be afraid to say no.

In the end realize that you’re only human.  If you can’t delegate the gift bags to someone else, and you don’t have the time to put the effort into them, then just do the best you can.  If after some more time things really suck then maybe you need to look for a new job.  But with open enrollment and the new teachers it sounds like this may be a tempoary increase in workload.

Post # 7
Member
3336 posts
Sugar bee

I feel your pain. My old company downsized, and I ended up with a LOT of new work. I tried for awhile, but I was so stressed out I couldn’t take it anymore. Crying in the shower in the morning is not a good way to start your day.) So one weekend I took some time and I made an excel spreadsheet:

Column 1: Task 1
Column 2: Time it takes to do that task, in minutes.
Column 3: Job Task 2
Column 4: Time it takes to do that task, in minutes.

I did that with all of my tasks, including columns for phone calls and emails. For those I used an average of how many I get per day, and an average of how long it takes to deal with them. ie, 45 emails x avg of 2 minutes per email = 90 minutes = 1.5 hours. That column only needed one line. Phone were mercifully fewer in number, but took longer.

Then I totaled each “minutes” column, and then the grand total of all minutes divided by 60, showing how many hours of work that was. I also had a line that used the minutes from my daily tasks, showing those alone took 3.5 hours of my day, every day. I was able to show my boss that my deadline of 2 weeks for several of my projects was going to take 3.5 weeks with all of the other job tasks added in. Only then was he able to see that I really had too much to do.

Then I had two lists for him: One list was changes I’d made to a few tasks to streamline them. (I wanted to show I had tried to make things better/save time.) The other was a list of solutions for him:

1. Suggestions of a few tasks to eliminate because they were unnecessary and just busywork that nobody needed to use. A huge one was logging calls – WHY?! Nobody EVER looked at those logs. (honestly I’d stopped doing them weeks before… lol)

2. A list of tasks that were redundant because another department was already doing them, so if we needed the info, we could get it from them.

3. A list of tasks that could be delegated to another department. (this list was short, because I didn’t want to presume other departments weren’t swamped too, and told him that.)

4. A list of tasks that I thought could be delegated, but wasn’t sure to whom, other than the receptionist who spent much of her day on facebook or playing games on her phone… grrrrrrrrrr. I didn’t say it like that, but I wanted to.

I had an estimated amount of hours that those 4 things would reduce my workload by. But it still left me with too much to do in my allotted hours, so I said “I don’t know what else can be done to solve this, other than hiring a part time person.” (no that didn’t happen, but twice I got a temp for projects – one week of someone doing data entry/other tasks that didn’t need much training – yay!)

He truly was unaware of how long things took, so this really helped. I was still overloaded, but not as badly, and he was more aware of my time when he asked me to do something else. (but yeah, he did keep asking – wtf?)

Another thing I threw in during our meeting, (yes I asked him for a meeting – I wanted his full attention), was that I was rushing through things to get them done and making some mistakes, and I didn’t want our department to look bad.

I eventually quit after finding a new job, because things were still too much and I could see they wouldn’t change anytime soon, but at least I wasn’t totally stressed out like I had been for my remaining time there. The good thing is I had taken very little vacation since I didn’t have time to, and they had to pay that all out to me in my final check. Yes, it cost me mentally, but it was still nice to get! I also snickered to myself because I’d used sick time to go on a few interviews 😉

You should try this with your boss. Many times it takes something in black and white to get people to understand the true scope of what you do.

Post # 8
Member
1248 posts
Bumble bee

View original reply
Mlim :  When I’m not at work, the best way I deal with stress is to work out.  When I’m at work, sometimes I just need to take a 2-3 minute break and just walk away.  For me, I can only do that when I’m in between patients, obviously I can’t do that mid session.  I walk outside my unit and look out the window or go to the bathroom and splash some water on my face.  Sometimes I surf on my phone for a few minutes.  Anything to take my mind away and be able to come back a bit refreshed.

Post # 9
Member
4239 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

My job is constantly stressful.  The list is never done and I’m always exhausted because of it.  I do love what I do, but some weeks I don’t even know where to turn.  Lists help me a lot, and so sometimes knowing when to let it be and go home helps me too.  I take sick days when I need them, sometimes mental health days, because it does help to limit the stress to get away sometimes.  It will get done, eventually.

Post # 10
Member
2990 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

I cry in my car, drink a lot of wine with dinner, and update my resume… 

Post # 11
Member
1579 posts
Bumble bee

I would job search. If a place can’t manage their employees, they experience turn over. 

Post # 13
Member
15 posts
Newbee

This might sound silly but this tactic really helps me out I’ve been big into bullet journals. I create my own calendar, to do lists, countdowns, check lists, etc. This give me a more organized life but I also draw in it and update it every day. I set little goals for myself as well to assure that I am on track and to make myself feel achieved. For instance if you have the 200 contracts to be made, set the gaol for 50 and cross it off maybe for ever 50 you can reward yourself with a little gift. It sounds silly again but its a stress reliever yet organization tactic.

Post # 14
Member
118 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

Stock up on that liquor cabinet! Stat!! 😋

Learn to love the hard work, little victories, early mornings, and late nights or find a job that you feel is more worth trading your limited time alive for monetary value. Something that really works for me are creative stress relief packages. I make the time to pamper myself at the end of the day. Sinking into satin sheets and a memory foam pillow makes a hard day of work feel more worth it. Having elements of a bedroom that make you wake up to serenity and make you enthusiastic in the morning helps as well. Morning meditation with stretches and green tea does wonders, gotta get in the habit of stockpiling positive energy. Work hard, play hard !

Post # 15
Member
3336 posts
Sugar bee

Mlim: To be clear, he did agree that I had too much and took many of my suggestions, eliminating some busywork and giving other departments some of the work. (including that facebooking receptionist! lol) That made my job better, but it was still a lot/too much some months.

I suppose he felt since he’d taken things away from my load, that I could do a few other things on occasion. (again, wtf?!) Sometimes I could, (slower months), but other times I just said no. (I was feeling brave because I knew he wouldn’t fire me – lol.)

The one thing I left out in my post was I also changed my attitude about finishing the work. When I felt myself getting stressed out because of the volume, I started saying to myself “it’s just not all going to get done today” and finished what I could. Sounds simplistic, but it really made a difference in my stress level.

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