Why You’re Feeling Overwhelmed at Work and How to Overcome It


Ok, let’s address the elephant in the room with this title. Obviously, without talking to you and getting to know you and the specifics of your situation, we can’t tell you exactly why you’re overwhelmed at work. But, we’ve worked with a lot of clients over the years and we’ve noticed some common themes. So, while your situation may be unique, there’s a chance you’re going to fall into some of the categories below.

#1 You’re working on the wrong things

You work hard every. single. day. You show up and you get things done. There’s a long list of to-dos and you’re crossing them off as fast as you can. There’s just one problem—you’re not making any progress.

Yes, you’re getting a lot of things done and staying busy, but you’re not getting any closer to your goals. In fact, a lot of times it might feel like you’re moving in the wrong direction. You’re spending a lot of time on busy work but not the work that moves the needle.

You’re focused on the wrong things. There are a lot of reasons why this happens, but if you want to stop feeling so overwhelmed, you need to learn how to prioritize your work. You need to start spending your time on the things that move you closer to your goals. Otherwise, you’re just staying busy.

Action Step:

Your to-do list should be formed from the goals you’re trying to achieve, not the things that just pop up throughout the day or week. This is why you need to always start by focusing on your goals. Spend some time reviewing (or setting) the goals that matter most to you and your business.

Then, look at your to-do list and see what tasks aren’t related. Look for ways to get these tasks off your list. If they are things that don’t need to be done, simply cross them off and don’t feel bad about it. If they need to be done, but not by you, delegate them to someone else.

The SPEARity app is designed to help you work on the things that matter most. You start the process by establishing your goals. Then you set your tasks based on those goals. You connect the two together so as you work on a task, you can see and know what goal you’re working towards.

#2 You aren’t being realistic with your time

It’s common for people to overestimate how much they can get done in one day. If you aren’t sure if this applies to you or not, ask yourself this simple question: How many times a week do you roll over tasks on your to-do list to the next day? If it’s more often than not, you aren’t being realistic with your time.

Another common problem that is directly related to this is underestimating how long tasks really take. How long does it really take to check your email? Probably longer than you think it does if you’ve never taken time to track it before. How much time do you spend on phone calls each day? Did you schedule that time in your calendar?

Here’s an example, this morning I started my workday by checking my email. In my head, I like to think that the process should take no longer than 15 minutes. In reality, it took me 41 minutes and 23 seconds. If I was expecting to get something else done with that almost 30 minutes of time I went over, it didn’t happen.

Action Step:

Start tracking your time. You don’t have to do it every single day, but I would encourage you to try it for a week. I like to use the Clockify app, but you can simply jot your times down on a piece of paper if you want.

The challenge is to track everything. Write down how long it took you to go fill up that second cup of coffee. How long did you talk about the football game or the latest show you’re binging right now with your coworker? What about the pop-up meeting that happened? Or lunch with your client? Don’t forget about the time spent popping on social media “real quick”.

Keep track of the way you spend all of your time at work. This tends to be an eye-opening experience for many people. Once you have your data, you can start to make the necessary changes.

If you want to take it a step further, track the time you spend after work as well. How much time is spent with friends and family? Watching television? Exercising? Reading? Scrolling social media?

#3 You don’t have the resources you need to succeed

A lack of resources can easily turn into frustration at work. This includes not having enough time, money, staff, or materials. There is a lot more to this category than we can cover in a single article, but let’s just scrape the surface a little.

What are you lacking right now that is causing you to feel overwhelmed and stressed at work?

Do you need more money? Look for ways that you can reallocate the budget in a more effective way. This may require you to get creative and think outside of the box that your company usually stays in.

Do you need more time? Go back up to the first two sections and get strategic with how you spend your time. Make sure you’re focused on priorities. You may need to choose to lower the bar on some things right now and put some things on the back burner. Time is finite and you might not be able to take on everything you’re trying to right now.

Do you need more staff? Look for ways to shift tasks to the staff you currently have. Maybe someone has experience in an area where they’re not being utilized. See if you can make some changes with the staff you do have to help lessen the burden for everyone. You can also consider hiring additional employees or finding a freelancer that can lighten the burden for a period of time.

Do you need more materials? This is going to vary based on the specifics of your situation. This may require you to put your heads together with other leaders in the organization to identify where the challenge is coming from and how to pivot.

Action Step:

Identify what resources you’re lacking right now and spend time brainstorming what steps you can take to rectify the situation. You may need to gather your team at the table to think through this together. Or, you may benefit from working with a business coach who can help you identify inefficiencies in your organization and how to fix them.

#4 You have a knowledge gap

Who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed when you’re trying to do something you have no idea how to do? Whether you are completely lost on a task or just stuck in determining a solution, having a knowledge gap in the workplace can be a big source of stress, frustration, and overwhelm.

In addition, if you’re a leader, having employees with knowledge gaps can also lead to frustration and overwhelm for you and them.

It can be hard to admit that we don’t know what we’re doing. Many of us have this small voice in the back of our heads telling us we need to always make it look like we know what we’re doing. We struggle with imposter syndrome just waiting for people to figure out we’re frauds who have no clue.

But what if we didn’t wait to be “found out”? What if instead, you decided to take a good hard look at yourself and acknowledge the areas where you would benefit from additional training and knowledge?

Action Step:

Identify one area where you have a knowledge gap or skills gap and choose one action step you can take in order to address it. If you’re unsure what the best step is, reach out to one of our SPEARity business coaches in Milwaukee (we can help regardless of where you’re located) to work with someone who can assist you with this step.

If you’re a leader, spend some time reflecting on each team member and where you feel they could use additional training. And don’t be afraid to ask them for their input on where they feel they could use more training or an area they are interested in growing. This is a great way to support your team while helping reduce overwhelm for everyone.

SPEARity wants to help you and your team

If you’re overwhelmed and stressed at work, our SPEARity coaches want to help you overcome your obstacles and achieve greater success. Contact us today to explore your options.

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