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Feeling overwhelmed at work can make you feel stressed, confused, trapped, and at risk of burnout.  When you experience overwhelm at work, it can be tough to manage your time, energy, and focus. 

Overwhelm can affect your ability to think and act clearly and rationally.  Feeling overwhelmed at work can also prevent you from making effective decisions and taking appropriate action. 

To stop feeling overwhelmed at work, understand the triggers.  Causes of feeling overwhelmed at work include having too much too to do, tight deadlines, work pressure, and stress.

As a time management coach, I help business owners and leaders understand the triggers that cause them to feel overwhelmed at work.  Once we uncover the causes of overwhelm, I develop strategies to help my clients stop feeling overwhelmed.

If you’re currently experiencing overwhelm, here are ten tips to help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work.  These strategies will help you feel clear, more confident, and ready to take action.  Through effective daily planning, better time management, and improved prioritisation you can stop feeling overwhelmed at work.  

Stop feeling overwhelmed by planning your time.  Read my step-by-step guide to effective daily planning

How to stop feeling overwhelmed at work

When you feel tired and overworked, life can feel overwhelming.  Longer to-do lists, increased pressure, and more commitments can make work feel overwhelming.  Feeling overwhelmed at work can make things seem bigger, scarier, and much less manageable than reality.

When you’re feeling tired all the time, you’re just not as productive at your work as you could be.  When you’re overwhelmed, you work your brain even harder, which causes fatigue and burnout. 

To stop feeling overwhelmed at work, reduce the overload, and give your mind greater freedom and clarity to tackle your biggest work priorities.  Feeling overwhelmed at work can increase stress and make you feel stuck.  If you’re feeling stressed at work, discover how to reduce stress at work.

Stop feeling overwhelmed at work with my Free Daily Planner.  Use the Daily Planner to take control of your time, plan your day and increase your focus.  

Simple tips to reduce feeling overwhelmed with work

Here are 6 simple tips to reduce feeling overwhelmed at work:

  1. Reduce your to-list to five most important activities each day
  2. Take some time out to think through things clearly
  3. Do a brain dump of everything that is cluttering your mind
  4. Re-connect with your goals to become more excited and energised 
  5. Pick your most important task and work on it until finished 
  6. Get better sleep so you’re more energised 

10 ways to deal with feeling overwhelmed at work

Here are 10 tips to help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work.  

1. Understand your triggers 

When you feel overwhelmed at work, it’s important to understand the causes of your overwhelm.  When you understand the triggers you can create strategies to overcome overwhelm or put coping mechanisms in place.

This helps you choose your response to feeling overwhelmed and ensure you become more intentional about your time and focus.  You can choose whether to feel overwhelmed, take things in your stride or let external stimuli throw you off course.

We all face different pressures at work every day, but many of them we’ve experienced before.  The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, try setting up your internal response in advance.

To reduce feelings of overwhelm, ask yourself what your ideal response is when you feel overwhelmed at work, so you know “If X happens, then you’ll do Y”

Creating shortcuts in advance ensures you know what to do the next time you feel overwhelmed.  This process gives balance, equilibrium, and a sense of calm when overwhelm strikes.

A typical response to increased workloads is to work harder.  The simpler strategy to reduce overwhelm is to work smarter, not harder  

2. Take a break 

When you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, take breaks to clear your mind and regain your focus.  Taking short breaks between important tasks and longer breaks throughout the day reduces feelings of overwhelm and helps you stay focused and motivated.

Having breaks boosts energy and creates balance in your day.  It also rejuvenates your mind and body.  To clear your mind, try walking, reading, meditating, doing yoga, or just sitting and thinking.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by work, taking time out helps you think clearly and rationally.  Your mind and body go into a relaxed state and help you gain greater clarity.  This helps you reassess any feelings of overwhelm and calms your mind.

Get more time management tips to reduce feelings of overwhelm. 

3. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by focusing on three things 

The first step to avoid feeling overwhelmed at work is to set better goals.   Having goals for the day increases clarity and focus and reduces overwhelm.

When you feel overwhelmed by work, try to break each goal down into a simple, daily action plan to help you stay focused.  Layout what you need to do by when, which stops feelings of overwhelm.

If you set an objective to achieve three major things each day, it is much harder to become overwhelmed by work.  Rather than having 10 or more things on your to-do list, you have better direction and focus.

You’ll feel calm and clear about where to focus your time which builds momentum and confidence. 

Read more about how to set measurable goals

4. Eliminate overwhelm by prioritising 

Multi-tasking is one of the core drivers of feeling overwhelmed with work and the stress that comes from overwhelm.  When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to jump between projects.  Overwhelm can cause you to deal with multiple projects running at the same time. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there is often a mindset of doing more and more rather than doing just one thing well.  When you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s essential to prioritise your most important work, rather than trying to do five things at the same time.  

Prioritising gives you greater clarity and direction for your day, which increases confidence.  Doing less, through better prioritisation, helps you achieve bigger results without the overwhelm. 

Use these tips on how to prioritise effectively.

5. Cut out your small stuff 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at work when the majority of your time is spent on the small stuff, rather than your most important work.  When you stay in your comfort zone and work on lots of small things it’s easy to waste time rather than shooting for bigger goals and opportunities.

Working on lots of small tasks can often feel important at the moment, but they lead to overwhelm.  To get out of overwhelm, identify your most important work and take focused action on those priorities. 

Delegate or outsource other work where you can.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Focus more time on making progress towards your goals. 

Read more about how to manage your time effectively

6. Be more flexible

It’s important to be adaptable when you feel overwhelmed at work.  Everything will not be perfect and go according to plan every time.  When you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, build tolerances into your timeline.  If you believe a project will take a day to complete, give yourself a day and a half.

This gives you a higher degree of comfort if things take you off your ideal path, reducing the chance of feeling overwhelmed.  To get through overwhelming work, take a step back and spend 15-30 minutes recalibrating and planning your next step rather than just reacting and jumping in.

Rather than feeling overwhelmed at work, you’ll be calmer and focused.  Planning your week helps reduce your feelings of overwhelm.  Read my guide to weekly planning

7. Believe in your original path

If things happen that make you start feeling overwhelmed by work and derail you from your original path, ask yourself “Was the original plan correct?”

Take some time to answer.  If it was, step back, dust yourself down, deal with the thing, but then move forward.  When you are confident about your direction, any setbacks become short-term.  Use this guide to setting short-term term goals to give yourself greater clarify and focus.

8. Focus on the positive

When you’re overwhelmed with work, your mind can make up stories about situations that are far bigger than actual reality.  Fear and overwhelm often set in, leading to inaction and procrastination.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, look at the situation through a frame of positivity and abundance and your mind will stay calm.  Focus on what lessons you can learn from the situation.

If one strategy isn’t working, become solution-driven rather than letting any feeling of overwhelm sweep over you.  When your mind feels calm, confident, and positive you think clearly and make better decisions.

Read also: 9 ways to improve focus and concentration

9. Talk it through to overcome overwhelm with work 

When you’re feeling overwhelmed with work and struggling to see through the trees, talk it through with someone.  The other person isn’t in the centre of the situation and can provide a different, calmer perspective and advice.  

They can help you see the situation differently, provide support, be an active listener and create a different perspective that you didn’t see because you felt overwhelmed by everything in front of you.

Clarity and focus are the perfect antidotes to overwhelming work.  A colleague, accountability partner, coach, or mentor can help change your perspective about why you feel overwhelmed.  They can also provide actionable solutions to get you out of overwhelm. 

Find out more about the benefits of working with an accountability coach

10. Breathe through it

When we are anxious and overwhelmed at work, it’s hard to get anything done.  We also often make bad decisions as we’re not thinking clearly.  If you already meditate, sit quietly somewhere and breathe through it.

You can also take a deep breath through your nose and then release it through your mouth.  Repeat this 10 times, or until you feel calmer and in control.  This simple process ensures you identify and focus on positive things. 

Learn more about developing a gratitude mindset.

Summing up

If you feel overwhelmed at work, understand the causes of overwhelm so you can put strategies in place to overcome them.  If you’re experiencing overwhelm with work, don’t suffer in silence.  Talk it through with your boss, a colleague, or find a coach to work with.

When you have too much to do and are unsure how to prioritise your time, energy, and focus, set daily goals to manage your time better.  Don’t set impossible deadlines, as that leads to more overwhelm.

If you  have many things that are causing feelings of overwhelm, try to eliminate each of them one by one.  A time management coach can help eliminate overwhelm and ensure you manage your time better.  As a result you’ll feel clear, focused, and productive. 

To understand how a time management coach can help you ditch overwhelm, book a free 30-minute clarity call with me.  

Now I’d love to hear from you

What’s your number one cause of feeling overwhelmed at work?

Which tip from today’s post have you taken action on before? 

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Overwhelm articles

How to deal with overwhelm: 11 simple tips

7 ways to stop feeling overwhelmed 

6 steps to avoid feeling burned out 

4 ways to overcome perfectionism 

5 ways to deal when you have too much going on

About Mark Pettit

Mark Pettit is a time management coach and accountability coach based in Colchester, Essex, UK.  He provides time management coaching programs and accountability coaching programs to business owners and entrepreneurs in the UK, US and Canada.

Mark also writes about time management, productivity and goal achievement.  Each month, over 10,000 people read Mark’s articles to help them achieve their goals faster.

Get all articles on the blog.  To plan your day effectively, download my free daily planner

Thanks for reading.  I am fortunate to share my work with over 10,000 people every month.  You can get more actionable tips in my popular weekly email newsletter. 

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