Workplace Overwhelm: What does it mean if there’s never enough hours in the day?
Posted on 27th October 2022 at 11:20
How many times have you found yourself thinking that there’s just not enough hours in the day?
Some days, you can just feel up against it - and that is ok. But if you’re ending every work day feeling the same it might be time for a change.
Feeling overwhelmed is like trying to juggle too many balls at once. As with juggling, everyone has their personal limit for how many balls they can have in the air at once. But constantly pushing yourself to add a new ball when you’re not ready or already at your limit will leave you feeling pressure, stressed and as if you’re in over your head.
No matter what organisation, industry, pay grade or seniority level you’re at, everyone is at risk of feeling totally overwhelmed at work.
What are the signs you’re struggling with overwhelm?
As is usually the case, everyone will feel overwhelmed in the workplace differently. But, some of the most common signs you might be struggling are:
Feeling like you’re at your wits end and just want to abandon everything and start again.
Work problems are lingering on your mind a lot longer than they used to
You’re struggling to switch off outside of the office
You’re having trouble sleeping (or are sleeping a lot and are waking up feeling tired)
You just feel exhausted all the time
You are less able to be creative or see all the options you have
Your motivation for work or any kind of fun outside of work has gone out of the window
Struggling to shift that cold or are getting ill more frequently
The Sunday blues seem to drag out all week.
At this point it’s important to note that feeling this way every so often is perfectly normal, particularly if you have a deadline looming or a big event on the horizon. If you’ve been feeling this way for a week or more though, please reach out as there’s things we can do to help.
What causes us to feel overwhelmed at work?
In the mental health space, we talk a lot about triggers. These are the things that cause us to feel overwhelmed or stressed or relieved or any other kind of emotion, and often the workplace is filled with them. Some of the most common triggers we see for workplace overwhelm include;
Pushing to reach an upcoming deadline for a project.
Lots of project deadlines all happening at the same time.
Difficulty saying “no’ or feeling pressured into saying “yes” to a new task when you already have too much on your plate.
Feeling like you don't have the skills or training to prepare you for the task you’ve been set.
Being set unrealistic time frames for the amount of work you require.
Noticing that everyone else in the office is in the same boat so you don’t feel as supported as you previously did.
This list is by no means exhaustive. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed at work though, it’s important to start taking note of what’s triggered you to feel this way as, often, you find it’s the same re-offenders each time.
So, how can you stop that feeling of overwhelm in its tracks?
Overwhelm isn’t always one of those feelings that hits you like a brick wall. Often it can be a slow burn which gets progressively worse over time. The good news is that there’s things you can do to stop overwhelm dead in its tracks.
So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed in the office, try…
Getting everything out of your head and onto paper.
When we’re overwhelmed we put the pressure on our brains to manage and keep track of the thousands of tasks and little pieces of information we’re continuously feeding it with. Getting all of this information out of our heads and onto paper takes the pressure off of our brains to remember everything and quiets that niggly voice in the back of your head constantly telling you you’re forgetting something. This gives us the space to work through challenges more freely and switch off at the end of the work day.
Make a priority list.
Lots of people consider prioritisation as a bit of a time waster - why spend 10 minutes ordering your tasks when you could be actually doing them? But when we have all our tasks written down and in priority order, we take the pressure off of ourselves knowing that the most important jobs are being completed first. A good criteria to measure your priorities by includes: when does this need to be completed by? Is this part of a bigger picture that a team is relying on me for? Can this be outsourced to another person, team, department or agency to complete faster?
Practice saying no.
Saying no when you’re completely overwhelmed isn’t rude. It's not a sign of weakness or how well you can manage your job or time. It's simply you setting and reinforcing healthy boundaries in the workplace to protect your own mental health. This can feel like a really difficult thing to do at first, so for more on this, take a look at my blog ‘What’s your no?’
If you’re finding that there’s just never enough hours in the day, get in touch with a member of the team today. We’d love to share with you some useful tips and tricks to help take the pressure off and get you your work life balance back.
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