How to cope when feeling overwhelmed at work
We’ve all been there (and many of you will be experiencing this right now); back to work after Christmas to an overflowing in-box, meetings that need to happen, projects requiring attention and deadlines looming large on the horizon. It can all seem incredibly daunting to the point of being overwhelming.
If you find yourself in this position (and let’s face it you’re not alone) there are a number of tactics you can employ to help ease the situation, depending upon how ‘overwhelmed’ you are feeling, of course.
If you are spinning in circles, unable to concentrate or feel incapable of doing anything productively, don’t try to tackle the whole to-do list at once. Instead, concentrate on the immediate things that need to happen today, tomorrow or next week (or even the next 5 mins if you feel particularly fraught).
‘A journey of a thousand leagues begins with a single step’ Lao-Tzu
Prioritize your concerns in order of importance, identifying what you have control over and what you cannot influence. If you have no influence over an outcome, let it go or at least distance yourself from it.
Take regular breaks of around 45 mins (our brains start switching off after this). If you’re working on something and you feel your heart beating faster, or your adrenaline spiking, then step away. Go and make a cup of tea or get some fresh air, change your scene then, when you’ve calmed down, return to what you were doing (even without feeling stressed we should take 15 minutes out, every hour and a half, to retain our equilibrium).
Turn off your email, and notifications on your phone, and do the work. If people try to interrupt, tell them you would love to help them in an hour or so (or whenever is convenient for you) when you’re not so busy. Once your concentration is broken it takes around 20 minutes to settle back into a task again, so don’t allow it to happen.
Create a list of your top 3 things to focus on: Must Do; Like to do; Amazing to do and tick them off as you do them. Our brains love to achieve, so setting manageable goals you can tick off will give you a good feeling and help you to feel in control.
Nicola Lyle is the Managing Director of Fired Up Careers and an Executive Coach & Leadership Trainer. She started her career in the drinks industry where she worked for over 15 years in sales and customer marketing. She has been a qualified and practicing coach since 2005, was a trainer for the Ministry of Defence for 3 years in Germany and currently works as a leadership and management trainer working with Executives in a wide range of industries.
Nicola is hugely passionate about helping people to have the career that fulfils and empowers them to live their best life. She offers Executive coaching, group coaching programmes and occasional retreats. Just drop her a line, she’d love to help you get your career on track.