Our society at the moment can be best characterized by fast-paced lifestyles and our desire for instant gratification. Tasks are done quickly and easily resulting in a quick feeling of happiness or satisfaction.
For example, you can send an email and get a reply right away. You can post a picture online and be happy when it engages.
Although these innovations bring a lot of advantages for us, there are still some downsides that come with them.
The Effect of Technology on Employees.
Technology can keep us connected whenever, wherever we are. This is good, but it usually leads to a difficult culture of work where people are constantly pressured to be available and productive.
It also gives employers a medium to communicate with their people 24/7. It became easier for bosses to continuously send a stream of workload even if you’re already out of the office.
With the steady recovery of our economy¹, some people are opting to work all day in order to keep up with the ever-increasing hustle within their field.
All of these scenarios, when experienced often, can lead to an unhealthy relationship with work. Being always connected can cause fatigue. And trying to finish the work you need to accomplish when tired or overwhelmed is no easy feat.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to cope.
Tips for Surviving a Busy Workweek
Are you feeling anxious or stressed at work lately? Do you find it difficult concentrating on your task and always thinking of the next item on your to-do list? If you answered yes, consider these six tips.
1. Give yourself a break.
Before anything else, you need to learn to pause and take a breath every now and again. It doesn’t have to be long hours too. Even just a few seconds of inhaling and exhaling can help you relax and refocus.
According to the National Institute of Health, higher stress can lead to lower productivity. When you give yourself a break, you’re increasing your work efficiency and decreasing the chances of burnout.
2. Change your mindset.
Remember that your mind is powerful. If you think you are drowning in work, your body will respond accordingly. Do not overwhelm yourself. Change the way you think by putting thoughts into a different perspective.
For example, you can reframe the idea “I need to finish half of my weekly task today!” to “I need to finish this task I’m working on as efficiently as I can.” This will help improve your focus and it won’t overwhelm you with the thought of other tasks.
You can also reframe opinions you have about a project. Let’s say you were asked to design an advertisement using an unfamiliar application. Instead of thinking, “This is such a difficult and tedious task.”, you can think “This is my chance to prove my creativity and learn something new in the process.”
3. Organize your priorities.
Not everything on your to-do list needs to be done immediately. Prioritize the tasks you need to work on. If you are not sure which ones are needed ASAP, reach out to those involved and clarify their expectations.
Stay organized not only with your tasks but also with what you need to do first.
What if your current task is too difficult? What to do then?
Learn to put things into their own boxes. Divide your work into smaller, doable portions. In this way, you are doing your tasks step-by-step instead of taking tiring strides.
4. Reward your progress.
To keep motivated and productive, it’s important to give yourself a treat every now and then. Doing so provides a sense of accomplishment as well as motivation to continue.
Give yourself something to look forward to.
Whether it’s your favorite snack or a five-minute phone break, setting a reward for yourself will motivate you to keep working.
The reward can vary from one person to another based on what they find fun or relaxing. Just make sure that the task and prize you set are both reasonable.
For example, the completion of one tedious, detailed task can be rewarded with a needed power nap. Or finishing a small task leads to eating a piece of candy you have stashed away.
Ask yourself, what do I want the most right now? Let your answer guide you to the reward you need.
Reward finishing hard tasks with easier ones.
If thinking of a reward is a difficult task or you can’t spare a few minutes for regular breaks, you can use Premack’s principle to keep you moving. This principle encourages you to do difficult tasks by promising an easier task after.²
Say you have two tasks for the day: a lengthy report you hate making and a visual presentation you’re excited to do. Instead of doing the task you want to do first, prioritize the difficult one and treat the easy task as a reward you can do after.
In this scenario, you remain productive while still crossing off items on your to-do list.
5. Ask for help when needed.
Are you feeling overwhelmed with your tasks? Chances are you do have too many things on your plate, and even great time management skills won’t be enough. To lighten the load, consider reaching out for help.
Do you have any colleagues who can help you with simple tasks? Do you have workmates you can delegate some responsibilities to? Are your bosses available to give advice or consultation?
Remember that you are part of a team. Collaboration and teamwork are important for any organization to run smoothly.
6. Take care of yourself.
According to Maslow’s theory of human motivation, a person’s drive to do anything is based on a hierarchy of needs.³ When applied to the context of work, people cannot achieve much when their well-being is compromised.
Who can focus on work when their head is spinning from lack of sleep? Who can produce great output when they’re too anxious about the smallest details?
The best way to survive a busy workweek is to keep yourself happy and healthy.
Allow your body to function properly by giving its physiological needs. Eat a hearty breakfast to make sure you’re ready for work. Don’t skip any meals and always hydrate, especially if it’s hot where you are.
Having fun is important but prioritize your sleep as well. A lack of sleep paired with stress can cause brain fog which can affect your focus and thought processes.
Read more: How to Work Hard & Play Hard in the New Year
Although a work-life blend is important, separate your work life from your personal life, especially if it causes you to have negative emotions.
Writing an email in under two minutes outside of work may not seem like a big deal. But, if you do this constantly, your mind might start equating free time to extra work hours.
To take care of your inner self, try getting in touch with your emotions and experiences. Listen to your mind, be aware of your body, and feel your feelings.
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- Brookings Institution. “11 Facts on the Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Brookings, 2 Apr. 2021, https://www.brookings.edu/research/11-facts-on-the-economic-recovery-from-the-covid-19-pandemic/#:~:text=Despite%20the%20headwinds%20created%20by,and%20spending%20while%20social%20distancing.
- Morgenstern, Anna. “How to Get Through an Extremely Busy Time at Work.” Harvard Business Review, 11 Mar. 2019, https://hbr.org/2019/03/how-to-get-through-an-extremely-busy-time-at-work.
- Maslow, Abraham H. “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Psychological Review, vol. 50, no. 4, 1943, pp. 370-96, https://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm.