Feeling Overwhelmed at Work? Here’s Why (And How to Fix It)

By Karin Bellantoni | Jul 31, 2020
Karin Bellantoni | ACHNET

“So, how was your day?” is a question that can feel extra loaded if you’ve had a bad one. And if you’ve had a bad week, or a bad couple months? Yikes. You try to respond without being a downer, but the truth is you’re overwhelmed and frustrated. It’s ruining your confidence and your enjoyment of work.

When I come into companies and ask people what a good day looks like for them, most people don’t know. They’ve been letting them happen randomly, instead of planning for it. If you’ve been feeling frazzled and exhausted more days than not, it’s time to up your game. It may not be possible to make every day “a good day” but it is possible to significantly up your ratio of good days to bad days with a little planning.

Why You Feel Frazzled

Back to back meetings, focusing only on what’s urgent and not what’s important, and not having any breaks throughout your day are likely reasons you’re feeling frazzled. Those are things I’m speaking about later on in the season of Crazy Busy, my podcast. But the biggest culprit I see that leads to overwhelm is having a never ending to-do list instead of a true plan.

Sitting in front of a pile of work that you’re just trying to get through rather than apply your creativity, collaboration and strategic thinking to is what I call a factory mentality. If you’ve found yourself getting stuck in the mindset of “just get it done” you aren’t maximizing your life and you aren’t connected to the true joy of doing good work.

Before we have the space to even consider tackling work joyfully, however, we need to get organized.

Step 1: Set up a Weekly Master List

List down all the tasks that you can think of. It doesn’t matter what they are, just keep listing. It won’t just be tasks for this week at first, it will be everything that’s on your mind. Once you are done, underline any projects that you have on your list.

A big piece of overwhelm comes from looking at projects rather than tasks. For example, creating a website is a project, not a task.

You’ll probably find that you have one or more projects on your list, and when you do, you have to take them into step No. 2.

Step 2: “Chunk” Your Projects

“Chunking” is when you compartmentalize a bigger task into small manageable tasks. So, check out each of the underlined projects that you have and break it into chunks. So your “Create Website” project might turn into a list of actual tasks like, Research websites I like and make notes on why I like them, Decide what tabs I want to go on my website, Get recommendations on website designers, etc.

Then, put these tasks onto your master list so you can