A common question that I am asked by people is, “What is the best way to approach my leader if I feel Im not coping with my workload?
Each time I’m asked this question, I reflect on one of Stephen Covey’s books, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. In particular, Habit 3 which is much to do with Time & Life Management.
So, you may be at work right now trying to make sense of your current work load and questioning yourself with self-doubt about your own abilities.
Questions and self-doubt statements that may be going through your mind;
- Why do I feel like I’m drowning in work?
- Everyone else around me appears to be coping with their workload!
- Do I have more work than my peers?
- Why am I struggling with my time management skills?
- Are my peers more productive and efficient than me?
- I’m stressed to the point that my job is making me sick in the stomach!
- Should I change roles or find a different job?
The list of questions and self-doubt that goes through our minds can be unmotivating and restrict us from reaching our full potential.
In addition to this, over time it can be detrimental to our Mental Health & Wellbeing.
My advice to those who feel they are not coping and believe their current workload is exceeding their capabilities is to;
- Determine what tasks contribute to your workload by writing a list of all your daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks (i.e. Excel spreadsheet).
- Establish what each task frequency represents (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly)
- Establish what tasks take priority using the “4 Quadrants of Time Management” (Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4) Steven Covey’s Time Management Grid
Quadrant I is for the immediate and important deadlines. (Whilst this is a critical work environment, be mindful that this is also where you can take on other peoples emergencies for their poor planning)
Quadrant II is for long-term strategising and development. (This is the Quadrant that you need to spend most of your time i.e 80%)
Quadrant III is for time pressured distractions. They are not really important, but someone wants it now.
Quadrant IV is for those activities that yield little if any value. These are activities that are often used for taking a break from time pressured and important activities. (Still an important Quadrant for your Mental Health & Wellbeing)
- Populate your calendar with all your tasks including the frequency, priority and time spent on each task.
- Make side notes of any conflicting overlap of meetings, unachievable deadlines given your task distribution and any areas of concerns that affect your efficiencies within your role.
- Duplicate/copy this spreadsheet workbook page (you will be editing this)
- Now analyze the data that you have collated to;
- Eliminate or move “waste” tasks identified as Quadrant 4,
- Reallocate “nice-to-do” tasks identified as Quadrant 3 to “light-on” days,
- Plan and expand your time required to complete Quadrants 1 & 2 tasks.
You will now be able to determine either of the following;
- My workload is now more manageable
If you have determined that your workload is more manageable (A), then I would advise you trial this for a month or so to see how you cope. Remember to adjust your calendar to reflect new introduced tasks or completed existing tasks.
If after this time you find that you are still not coping, then this is a good time to speak with your Leader.
- My workload is still not manageable
If you have determined that your workload is still not manageable (B), then I would advise that you speak to your leader immediately to discuss your situation. Remember, your leader is there to listen and support you.
Following this process can provide you with many positive outcomes;
- Eliminating waste,
- Promotes prioritizing tasks,
- Highlights inefficiencies & efficiencies,
- Promotes opportunity for improvements,
- Provides transparency and clarity for you and your leader,
- Engages your leader with an opportunity to support and mentor you,
- Supports further development opportunities,
- Highlights uneven work distribution levels
- Supports your Mental Health & Wellbeing and Job Satisfaction (Happiness)
Some wise words from author Stephen Covey…
“Executing on the most important priorities. To live a more balanced existence, you have to recognise that not doing everything that comes along is okay. There’s no need to overextend yourself. All it takes is realizing that’s it’s all right to say no when necessary and then focus on your highest priorities” Stephen Covey
“Plan Every Week – 1. Connect with mission, roles and goals, 2. Schedule the Big Rocks, 3. Organise the rest” Stephen Covey