struggling to manage your workload? here’s what you can do

Learn how to manage your workload and implement effective workload management strategies.

In today's fast-paced work environment it's not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by a seemingly never-ending workload. We all want that all-important work/life balance. But for many of us, this can sometimes feel impossible to achieve. 

If you find yourself unable to manage your workload, don't worry. You can adopt workload management practices to help you build and maintain a sense of control. 

Here, we'll explore some of the most effective workload management techniques to help you manage all your tasks and reduce the burden of work-related stress.

signs your workload is too much

The first step towards developing an effective workload management strategy is to recognise when your workload is too much. If you're regularly working late and feel like your to-do list is never-ending, there’s a good chance your responsibilities are too much for one person to manage. 

Of course, there are times when being busy at work is a good thing. Busy periods can provide opportunities for personal growth and create a sense of personal achievement. But when your workload affects your sleep, diet, personal life and mental health, this is a sign that things are becoming too much. 

Consistent work overload can cause high levels of stress, leading to exhaustion and eventually burnout. More than half (56%) of accountants suffer from burnout, and work overload is a known cause. 

Signs of burnout include:

  • Loss of motivation
  • Low energy
  • Feeling detached
  • Reduced productivity
  • Decreased satisfaction
  • Increased sick days
  • Feeling useless at work

If you’re concerned you might be heading for burnout, here are some practical workload management tips to help you manage your tasks. If you’re feeling like things are too much, contact one of our registered counsellors online or over the phone for confidential emotional support.

tip 1: prioritise your tasks

One of the fundamental principles of workload management is prioritisation. Start by identifying which tasks are most important and need immediate attention. You can use methods like 'Eat That Frog' - a system of thinking where you get your most important tasks done first. (The phrase comes from Mark Twain: "If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first".)

Starting with the biggest, most challenging, and most important task first is a great way to manage your workload. It means that even if you still have things on your to-do list at the end of working hours, they should feel less urgent. 

If you're managing your workload in this way but are still working outside of your contracted hours, you're probably trying to do too much. 

tip 2: delegate and split tasks

You don't have to do everything yourself. Where possible, try to delegate tasks to a team member who has the time. Your team's performance is not solely down to you, and balancing workloads between team members can help save time and even provide learning opportunities for others. Collaborative efforts can enhance the quality of work and improve employee performance.

If you're worried about uneven workload distribution, speak to your team leader and ask them to review the team's capacity. 

You might also suggest using time-tracking software to manage everyone's workload, if this isn’t already in place. Time-tracking software be extremely useful for client work as you and your team leaders can set realistic deadlines based on resource availability.

Delegating shouldn't be something to be ashamed of. Simply asking your team members if they have the capacity to help can make all the difference when it comes to workload management.

tip 3: learn to say no

Being assertive and learning to say no is essential to effective workload management. 

While it might feel good to take on more responsibility, saying yes to too many requests can result in you setting unrealistic expectations of yourself. Remember, it’s OK to politely decline further tasks or commitments or to ask for an extended deadline. If a task is urgent, ask your line manager if they can support you by reallocating some of your other tasks.

If you feel pressured into taking on more than you can handle, speak to your work HR team on the issue. Alternatively, you can contact us for wellbeing advice.

tip 4: work on your time management skills

It’s easy to overpromise when taking on new tasks and underestimate the time it takes us to complete them. This means we often find ourselves missing deadlines and taking on more than we should. 

By managing your time better, you should find that you’re able to work more quickly and efficiently, which, in turn, should help to reduce work-related stress. Good time management is a constant practice, but you can start by doing the following things:

1. Calculate how much time you need to complete a task based off previous work
2. Set achievable deadlines
3. Plan your workload that week as accurately as you can, including your ‘frogs’ or priorities
4. Block out time for administrative tasks once your important tasks are done
5. Do one task at a time to improve focus
6. Set smart goals based off your working hours
7. Think of ways to streamline repetitive tasks to make them faster

Blocking out your time properly will ensure you're setting deadlines in a more realistic way. If you're ensure of the best time management techniques, speak to team members or team leader.

tip 5: take regular breaks

When you’re busy, it can often feel like you don’t have the time to take breaks. However, research has found that stepping away from whatever you’re working on can have many benefits, including increased productivity and engagement. 

That’s why it’s so important to block out regular short intervals of time for yourself. In your break you could:

  • Go for a walk
  • Do a brief meditation session
  • Chat with a team member
  • Make yourself a nice snack
  • Listen to music

Try to be active if you can and do something that allows you to fully detach from your work. 

tip 6: learn to manage your stress

We’ll all feel varying degrees of stress from time to time, both in and out of the workplace. Learning how to manage these and build your personal resilience is key to better mental and physical health. The best stress-busting techniques include:

  • Mindfulness
  • Deep breathing
  • Physical exercise (including gentle activities like walking and stretching)

A balanced approach to handling stress can enhance your overall well-being and work performance and be a useful workload management strategy when things get too much. If you want to cope better with work stresses, read our article on handling stress in the workplace.

If you’ve tried all of this and your workload doesn’t feel any lighter, it’s time to talk to someone. Having too much on your plate can leave you feeling deflated, and no one should feel useless at work because they have too much on. 

tip 7: talk to someone you trust

If you feel like things are starting to get too much for you, opening up to someone you trust, like a colleague or your HR manager, can ease some of the pressure and help you to regain a sense of perspective. Remember, that asking for help is never a sign of weakness.

Start by saying you’ve tried to get your workload management under control, but it’s becoming too challenging. Talk through how it’s affecting you ask for help. Your other team members may not even know the extent of your struggles, so it’s important to let someone know. People who can help you include:

  • Project managers
  • Team members
  • Administrative staff members
  • Team leaders

Working as a team will lead to effective workload management, because a heavy workload should be dealt with by the entire team, not just you.

If you’ve spoken to someone but don’t think things are getting any better over time, it could be time to move on. Have a look at our tips on career progression to help you land your next role. 

workload management skills: making the right decisions

Struggling to manage your workload is a challenge many professionals face, especially when you can't see the end of the tunnel. Working extra-long hours may feel like a fix in the short term, but over time you risk sacrificing your mental health - and, indeed, your capacity to bring your A-game to work.

However, with the right strategies in place, you can regain control and reduce the stress associated with heavy workloads. Remember, effective workload management is not about doing more, it's about doing what matters most, efficiently.

feeling burnt out?

Over time, high levels of stress can affect our physical and mental wellbeing. Burnout can happen to anyone at any time. It’s not a weakness; it’s a sign you’re pushing yourself past your limits.

tackle burnout head on


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