5 Ways to Prevent Overworking
Performing at work and delivering exemplary output is something most of us strive for. However, sometimes, it may come with a price – not knowing when to stop and stretching ourselves too thin to the point of mental and physical exhaustion.
While there may be no fast and hard rule when it comes to effectively balancing work and personal life, there may be some steps or ways that you can take in order to ensure that you do not cause a strain on your personal life while striving to perform at work.
Understand your job scope
To know exactly what kind of tasks you are in-charge of or what kind of role you play in certain projects may help reduce the tendencies of overworking and mental and physical drain.
If you are working with a team, it may be a smart move to ask what tasks will be delegated to you and the timeline and deadline for each task. From these pieces of information, you will be able to formulate a strategy on how to manage your tasks effectively and more efficiently. You may be able to create a list of “Urgent and important”, ”Urgent but not important”. “Not urgent, but important”, and “Not urgent and not important” tasks.
With your tasks properly scheduled, you may be able to work on every task you need, within the time you have allocated, and complete each task more efficiently without stressing yourself about deadlines and other assignments or projects you have on your plate.
Know your limits
It may be tempting to say yes to each and every task thrown at you. A lot of us are driven by the thought of being needed and being in-charge of things. While the willingness to take on more tasks, help the team, and learn new skills is a good trait to have, boundaries have to be set to prevent an overwhelming amount of tasks from taking a toll on your physical and mental health.
There may be numerous ways on how to evaluate the gravity of each individual task, and one way would be to list out all projects you have on your plate and estimate the number of minutes or hours it takes for you to complete a task. This may be easy for tasks that are done on a regular basis, but for ad hoc items, an estimate should be able to suffice. If you are working as a creative, it will be advisable to reflect the time you may need to get into the zone and get your creative juices flowing. It will always be tricky at first, but constant practice may help make this task much easier.
Learn to prioritise
We had briefly touched on the Eisenhower Matrix on point number 1, but let’s go deeper into the beauty of this formula and how it can save you from the possibility of overworking.
The matrix simply explains what tasks you should (1) do now, (2) schedule and do later (3) delegate (4) delete. The “Do Now” tasks require urgent attention and are tied to a specific deadline that warrants immediate attention and on-time completion.
With this method of sorting and categorising of tasks, you may find yourself not stressing too much on the workload that’s in front of you and more confident that you will be able to provide the needed output at the time it is required – or even much earlier. This may also be a good platform for you to exercise your delegation and management skills, as you delegate tasks within your team or peers in order to be more effective and efficient at work.
Quick breaks may exactly be what you need in order to not overwork and overstretch yourself. Do not be hesitant in taking breathers in between work and let your mind relax and rest for a little while. If your office has an outdoor garden where you can go and breathe fresh air, that may be helpful too. You may also go to a cafe and just sit there for a little while and have a cup of coffee. If you do not have the luxury to go outdoors or visit other establishments within the vicinity of your office, you can always just stay at your desk and scroll through your phone.
A good breather will also be to drink water, have some healthy snacks, or go for a short, quick walk. The ultimate goal is to be able to rest your brain even for just a short while.
It may look great to say yes to everything you are asked to do, but there is power in saying “No”. To say “No” because you have your plate full doesn’t make you a bad teammate nor lazy, it means that you understand your capabilities and respect the timeline that the team needs to observe.
It may get more challenging to say “No” than to say “Yes”, but if you stop and evaluate your work and assess the amount of time required to do a good job at it, you can justify why it is important for you to say no to a task. If you make a habit of saying a healthy amount of “No’s” when it comes to overwhelming workload, then it may come much easier the next time you are presented with additional workload that may be too much for you to handle.
Having said the above, we are of course not encouraged to try and dodge every task. Time management is a good skill to have, and only when you feel that the amount of workload is not anymore physically possible to be completed within the amount of time intended for them to be done, then start saying the powerful “No”.
There may be many ways that you can put into practice in order for you to save yourself from overworking. It will be a matter of which way will come more naturally to you and which ones will be easier for you to do.
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