There is no doubt that the COVID-19 lockdown had a deep impact on our society. It challenged the status quo and exposed the failure of our systems, including education, labor, work, health care, etc. It revealed how our systems are full of meaningless and redundant tasks that serve no purpose except to give people something to do – a way to keep the masses in control. This is especially true in the work landscape, where employees swamped with work toil away precious time of their lives just to earn money and afford basic necessities for their loved ones.
“Work” is ever-consuming. It takes over our lives, leaves us unable to do anything, and is bereft of fulfillment, meaning, or love. These feelings are even more heightened after the COVID respite and people feel extremely exhausted, burnt out, and drowning in work. The need for a better work-life balance and a reprioritization of what’s important to you is apparent. Here are some essential rules that you should consider if you find yourself overwhelmed with work on a daily basis.
What are the Signs of a Burnout?
Swamped with work is described as being overwhelmed with excessive amounts of work. Being constantly faced with endless lists of tasks, failing to meet your deadlines over and over again, and never having a moment to breathe or relax can lead to burnout. Burnout syndrome affects people from all walks of life but especially students and employees. People suffering from it report the following symptoms:
- Feeling tired and exhausted all the time
- Being drained of all energy, unable to complete even simple tasks
- Feeling lethargic and sleeping a lot or less – disruptive sleep cycles
- Having no motivation
- Feeling a sense of helplessness
- Feeling trapped and defeated
- Feeling like a failure
- Self-doubt, a low self-esteem
- Constantly procrastinating even when knowing its bad for you and will lead to negative consequences
- Feeling stressed all the time
- Being depressed, overall poor mental health
Burnout Manifests itself in Physical Illnesses too
- Physical symptoms of burnout include:
- Headaches and migraines
- Body aches, especially back and shoulder aches, stomach aches
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- High blood pressure
- In severe cases, the entire body shuts down or tumors form in the body, and other serious medical diseases require prolonged health care.
How to Reorder your Life when Swamped with Work?
Hope is not lost. There are ways you can prevent work from overtaking your life. Do the following things when you’re feeling overwhelmed with work. These are sure to be helpful regardless of whether you’re a student or a worker.
Pause, take a breath, and acknowledge
The very first thing to do when you’re absolutely drowning in work is to pause. Stop whatever you’re doing and take a step back. Take a moment to breathe out all the stress you’ve accumulated. Unclench your jaws and your muscles. Relax your limbs. For maximum effect, do some guided breathwork.
It is crucial for your well-being that you acknowledge what’s going on. Usually, the feelings of burnout don’t jump out suddenly. They build up gradually. You might not be able to identify them at first. However, if you’ve constantly stressed about work, finding it difficult to complete tasks or even find the motivation to start them, then it’s time for you to reassess your situation.
Get clarity – List down ALL the tasks that need doing
If you don’t want to get stuck in this phase or end up in a hospital, you must get clarity about your situation. Reflect on what you are feeling. Acknowledge your emotions. Being honest with yourself is extremely helpful in determining what is causing you to feel stressed out. Is it just excessive workload or do you hate your job?
I find it useful to list down everything – from emotions to aspirations to all the things that require doing. Make multiple lists if you want. List down all the work tasks that are pending, all the house chores that are due, and all the ways you want to improve your condition and progress toward your ideal life. The end goal is that you get clarity.
Prioritization is the Key
That’s the secret to life, prioritization. You have to set your goals straight and prioritize what is really important to you. It could be your family or friends, meaningful relationships, your personal health and well-being, your career, etc. From your list of work duties, you should rank the tasks that are most important and due sooner. This way, you can get your life back on track as well as your work.
Make a schedule and stick to it
The best way to get out of a work block is to make a proper schedule. Grab a calendar and mark down your tasks for each day. Breaking your day down into smaller work sessions with ample break time in between is useful as well. Keep in mind that you might not be able to follow the schedule to a T but no need to beat yourself down over it. Keep your schedule flexible. Honestly, it would feel amazing to cross off tasks from the to-do list at the end of the day.
Pro Tip: it might be daunting to complete one big task in one go. Therefore, it is better if you break it down into smaller chunks. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your morale.
Understand yourself and your Unique productivity level
Every person is different. It is fundamental while scheduling that you consider the time it will take YOU to get a task done, rather than the time it SHOULD take. Self-knowledge is the key here. Similarly, learn what time of the day you’re more motivated and work better. For some, it is early morning while for others it’s late night. Do not hold yourself to toxic productivity levels that society demands. It is okay if you get only one task done in a day. It is better than being stuck and not finishing anything.
Don’t shy away from asking for help
Our society stigmatizes asking for help. It is perceived as weak and lacking. We can all agree that it’s an unhealthy mindset. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. That’s why try to have an honest conversation with people around you. Talk to your boss that you’re struggling with excessive work and if there’s a way to delegate some tasks to others. Likewise, ask your family if they’d be willing to help you out as you find a workable solution.
See no way out? Quitting your Job might be in order
In 2020, a record number of people quit their jobs. And the trend is only going upward. So many people are quitting their stressful, 9 to 5 jobs that there’s even a name for this phenomenon – “The Great Resignation”. The reasons behind it are a lack of fulfillment and joy, low wages, a poor work environment, and no job security. If you’re not appreciated or recognized at your workplace and overall feel like a meaningless, replaceable cog in the machine, then it might be time to quit your job. Take this time to re-valuate your life goals and personal finances so you may rise again stronger and sturdier
But Most Importantly – Take Care of Yourself
In the end, it’s all about your mental health and well-being. If you are being taken for granted at work, disregarded, and suffering at a deeper level, then no number of productivity hacks are going to fix your situation. Prioritize yourself above all. Make a conscious effort to take care of your physical and mental health. Take time to destress through yoga, meditation, exercise, hobbies, etc.
It is far too common for people to feel stuck due to being swamped with work that takes away all of their time. But keep in mind, work is not your entire life. There’s more to it. Don’t sacrifice yourself, your health, and your time with friends and family for this work.