skip to Main Content

Tools to help you manage your workload

There were many times in my executive career where I had so much on, I didn’t know where to start. This kind of pressure made me feel overwhelmed and I often let work-life balance go out the window.

The clients I coach are in the same boat, and sadly this sentiment is reflective of the wider workplace. Burnout is on the rise, with those in New Zealand more likely to suffer than workers in any other country (Unispace survey, May 2023).  The key culprits?  Half of respondents said workload expectations were a major driver behind their burnout, followed by expectations to always be online at home.

Whilst we can’t plan for everything, there are some helpful tools we can incorporate into our ways of working to mitigate overwhelm and ensure we prioritise what truly matters. Here are the key ones that have worked for me!

1. Align your goals with the strategy

I’m constantly surprised by the number of leaders who can’t easily articulate their business and team strategies or explain how the work they’re doing contributes to them.  And they often find it hard to summarise what their key goals are for the year/quarter/month.  It’s no wonder they feel like they’re treading water and let little distractions impede on their day.  If we don’t have clear goals, it’s hard to focus our energises on what’s going to make the biggest difference.

Action: Write down the goals for your role, aligning them with your relevant strategies. Focus on your top 5 goals and get them signed off by your leader.  Keep them handy so you can check in on them regularly.

2. Prioritise frequently

Despite clear goals, you’ll continually need to evaluate and re-prioritise your time, factoring in the day-to-day components of your job like meetings, offsites and reporting.  You could prioritise daily, weekly or monthly – the more often the better!  And remember a prioritised list is just that – work through it from top to bottom given the time available.

Action: Prioritise your goals and focus areas as often as you need to.  Share your latest priorities with your leader during weekly/monthly catch ups and update them as required.

3. Delegate with purpose and hold your team accountable

Delegating is something that many leaders find challenging.  Often, it’s because they don’t want to put more stress on their team members, or they like to “roll up their sleeves” and help.  But as well as putting more pressure on themselves, failing to delegate appropriately limits the development opportunities for their team members.  And when leaders do delegate there is often a reluctance to provide feedback, which ultimately lessens the output and adds more to their workload!

Action: Delegate with purpose, considering who to delegate to based on the strengths and opportunities of your team. Ensure you provide clear instructions, resources and training, and make sure you’re available to respond to queries. Finally, be sure to provide feedback so they can learn!

4. Think about what you’ll STOP doing

When I ask my clients what they’re going to STOP doing to meet their goals, the question often hits them with a jolt because it’s not something they’ve considered before.  We seem to think that tasks can just keep accumulating without something having to give but of course we only have a finite amount of time. So, once you’ve delegated and prioritised and something new comes onto our list, your next question should be “so, what will come off the list?”.

Action: Decide onwhat you’ll stop doing if you reach capacity and get agreement from your leader.  Setting and maintaining boundaries on your working hours is a critical component here, so incorporate this into conversations too.

5. Be mindful of your own behaviours

When I dig deeper with clients in discussions around their workload, sometimes there are behaviours or characteristics that aren’t helping them.  Examples include perfectionism, people-pleasing, wanting to be seen as the best, or maintaining a sense of control.  These are unfortunately all-too-common traits which can be harmful to our leadership and wellbeing if left unchecked.

Action: Reflect on whether your behaviour is contributing to your workload.  A good way to do this is to ask yourself what’s holding you back from prioritising, from delegating, from stopping something. Reflect on how you can change these, perhaps by chatting them through with someone you trust.

Back To Top