Tips for coping with a demanding workload
It’s no secret that startup founders struggle with workload at various points throughout the year. It’s likely that you’ll find yourself in a position of having 101 things to do and just not enough time or resources to get stuff done.
Personally, I struggle to delegate work, which is something I’m working on. Thankfully, I’ve got a great team around me that offer help (Alex even helped me put this post together, after Hollie reminded us both that we needed to do one!)
According to an ACAS report published earlier this year, 60% of people that struggle with stress or anxiety at work do so because of workloads, while 35% highlighted a poor work/life balance as the reason.
We put together the following tips to help manage workloads and allow you to switch off at the end of each day, resting peacefully in the knowledge that everything is in hand.
Create to-do lists
Don’t keep it all in your head! At the start of each day, take a few minutes to list the tasks that need completing that day; ranking tasks according to importance or urgency as this will help you plan your day and focus your mind. As the day goes on, you can add tasks into the rota as appropriate and cross them out once completed. Seeing the tasks in black and white allows you to not only see what needs to be done but provides a quick motivation boost when you glance to see how much you’ve done already that day!
Don’t keep ignoring the boring tasks
Are there tasks that continue to be neglected? Are you putting that one job off again and again? If you’re avoiding something regularly, perhaps consider if someone else can do it for you? Delegating smaller tasks to either employees or external parties can free up time for you to focus on the bigger and more important projects. If you can’t delegate it, set aside some time each week. Once they’re out of the way, you’re free to focus on the more enjoyable aspects of owning your own business.
Remember the 80:20 rule
Quite simply, it’s a long-established fact that 80% of productivity is the result of 20% of the things we do. Try to identify the 20% that matter and concentrate on those tasks.
Don’t let your inbox dictate your day
If you receive 100 emails a day, that’s potentially 100 disruptions from the task in hand. If you find yourself gravitating towards your emails every time an alert pops up, try turning off audible alerts to minimise distractions. Consider implementing set times for checking your inbox, allowing you to focus more on the task in hand in the meantime.
Expect the unexpected
One way or another, you’ll be faced with unexpected situations during the day. A big call you hadn’t planned, a difficult email or a problem that arises from nowhere; it happens to us all. When they arise, triage the situation and identify when it needs to be dealt with. If something is urgent, don’t put it off if possible. If it can wait, try to stay focused on what you were doing.
Set realistic deadlines
Look at your task list and try to identify how much time each task will require. Try not to set aside too much or too little time and try to stick to your timescales. Knowing that you have a deadline to hit can help you stay focused and stop you from dragging your feet. The end result is more productivity during the day.
Monitor your performance
Set aside a few minutes at the end of each week to look back at how it went; what went well? What took longer than it should have? How can you be more efficient? Identify what works well for you and run with it, but also identify areas where you could perhaps save some time and resources, diverting them to more worthwhile ventures.
Above everything else, it’s important that you TALK. If people aren’t aware of what you are coping with, how can they help? So spend some time speaking with the people around you – it will help.
You’ve got this.