It appears that everyone I speak to is busier than ever. Despite the growing awareness of the benefits of a four-day week and the importance of prioritising a good work-life balance, our workloads are increasing. We're expected to do more in the same amount of time - leading to increased stress at work, burnout and feelings of being undervalued. This week I'm sharing some hints and tips to help you prioritise workload and tasks.
Be honest and transparent
Firstly, be open and honest about workloads and pressures to your line manager. While it's great to be flexible and help others, you're only human and if your manager is delegating too much, then you need to raise your concerns. Otherwise, nothing will change and no one will know you're struggling. Even if it's only for the short term and you can cope with added tasks and projects, let your line manager know about your workload so it doesn't become the norm and impact your ability to do your job.
When management adds tasks to your workload, it's important to utilise the skills and strengths of your team and delegate some tasks to them. Delegation isn’t the easiest thing to do, and sometimes it can be hard to completely let go of something. However spot-checking the work you delegate can lead to better confidence in the future.
Often tasks are done by several people or may be a duplication of other work you're doing. Stopping, reflecting and re-addressing priorities can help identify if things still need to be done or if the task has changed and can be reallocated to someone else. This also gives you a chance to reassess the expectations you have for your role.
Create a to-do list
Find a method that works for you, whether that's a to-do list, putting things into diaries, adding notes to documents or using different coloured post-it notes to keep track of tasks. I like to make a new to-do list each day, highlight the task when it’s done and once all are complete, tear out the page and shred it – there is something I find satisfying about getting rid of the list. When creating your to-do list, consider splitting tasks between urgent and important so you can then prioritise which you want to do first.
Use your inbox
I use my email inbox as my to-do list. I email myself reminders and don’t move anything until it’s been actioned. It acts as a visual reminder of tasks that needs to be done. To do this, you would need to action everything in your inbox and then start afresh.
Break down the task and avoid distractions
Some tasks have several elements to them, and breaking down the task can help you focus on little goals to achieve the bigger ones.
It's easy for attention to be diverted, and you may need to find somewhere quieter and away from the hustle and bustle to get all your jobs done.
Once you have your to-do list, it's easy to start one task, then put it aside and start another, especially if they all have looming deadlines. However this can add to the pressure, and it's better to complete one task and then move on to another.
Ad-hoc tasks without a deadline are more likely to stress you out, as you might find yourself adding them to your to-do list every day and never doing them. I find that giving every task a deadline helps with managing my workload and ensuring things are done.
My last piece of advice goes back to my first tip, be honest, open and transparent. Support others, but don’t become overwhelmed to the point where you're burnout and overworked. If you're under pressure, speak to your manager, voice your concerns and get support.