These tips might help you get through a long workday.
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In our currently fast-paced working environment, anyone can easily feel overwhelmed at work.
This could be due to performing and completing several complex projects back-to-back. It could also be handling a long, difficult client on top of looming deadlines.
Fortunately, there are ways to manage this overwhelming feeling so we can see our work through. Here’s what you can do to get through an overwhelming day.
1. Do a familiar activity
We’re creatures of habits no matter how hard we try to condition ourselves not to be. Doing a familiar activity such as our daily routine can help us prepare mentally for the long workday ahead. It’s as though doing something familiar fires up our muscle memory and we’ll soon just go with the flow.
Pick a task on your to-do list that’s easy to do to get it out of the way first. This could be as simple as getting a cup of coffee and breakfast or sending off that quick email. If possible, it should be a task that you can complete in one sitting.
2. Get right to the task you’ve been putting off
Sometimes what’s making us overwhelmed at work is due to something we’ve been avoiding doing and it’s still lingering at the back of our minds. There’s no easy way out because the only way forward is through.
This could be a presentation you’ve been putting off or someone you’re supposed to call. If the work seems too much to do, break the work into smaller sections to complete.
Even if you didn’t finish doing the whole project on the same day, you’ll still feel productive for getting started. By doing something you’ve been avoiding, it’ll help stop you from getting into a negative spiral about yourself.
3. Take short breaks in between
If you’ve several tasks to complete, consider taking a few breaks in between after completing each task.
Resting and relaxing your mind for a few minutes by taking a walk, looking outside the window or chatting with your colleagues can help you return to your task more alert and refreshed.
Another popular method to try is the Pomodoro method by working for 25-minutes periods and taking five-minute breaks between each set. Each interval is known as a Pomodoro. After four Pomodoros, you can take a longer 15 to 30-minute break.
One of the ways you can reward yourself during the break is by watching a short video of cute animals.
A British study conducted by the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom found that there was a drop in anxiety and stress as a result of watching images and videos of cute animals.
4. Don’t do everything at once
Trying to perform to a high standard all the time is just never feasible. If you feel like you’re taking on too much work, it’s time to slow down. As a compromise, you might have to do half of your usual work or break your tasks into smaller sections in a to-do list.
If you feel like you need a break, you should take your long overdue leave or mental health day.
The rest is needed so you can bounce back with more concentration and energy. Chances are, you’re lacking sleep and that contributes to feeling overwhelmed at work too.
5. Talk to and find guidance in others
When we feel like we’re alone with our problems, it can increase stress and reduce productivity because our minds are occupied.
Sometimes all the worries in our heads just need to be let out by talking or venting and we’ll immediately feel like a heavy burden has been lifted. By talking to others, they may be able to offer help or insights you never thought of.
However, do check and ask your colleagues or friends before venting to them. You don’t want to ambush them with your bad day when they’re also facing their own down days.
While talking about problems do help, it’s still safer to only share with people you trust and those who understand you. You don’t want people who don’t know you to assume you’re being lazy or useless at work just because you’re experiencing some stress.
6. Use negative emotions to your advantage
There’s a myth that people should always be passionate and happy with their work and that may only be reserved for programmable robots. We’re humans and there will be days when our moods are not great.
It’s tempting to just curl up and shut down when we feel down. However, we can use negative emotions to work to our advantage.
For example, anger can fuel us to be more determined in a project while anxiety might make us more diligent.
That said, it can be hard to think of the positive side of things when we’re going through the motions. What can help us is to take a breather to think things through before acting on them.
7. Maybe it’s time to say “No”
Our colleagues might feel comfortable assigning us more tasks because we’re reliable and dedicated. However, that can quickly lead to burnout because your task list just gets higher and higher.
When that happens, you’ll have to be honest about your workload to your colleagues because they are probably aren’t aware. You can ask or negotiate for extra time or to extend the deadline so you can focus more on your current tasks.