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How to handle a heavy workload

We've put together some advice to help you get stuck into a hefty to-do list and stay mentally healthy while doing it. It’s important to maintain your mental health and to enjoy taking on challenges. Being able to tackle a large workload will make you a more valuable employee and help assure people that you can manage the work they give you and help you build working relationships. So in the spirit of this list, let's get on with it.

Break down your tasks

Start with a to-do list. You can always rely on pen and paper and keep the note on your desk to jog your memory. If you stick to this, you’ll get addicted to the feeling of seeing your list shrink as you get jobs done and find yourself motivated to keep going. If you prefer a more digital approach, trello.com is a great way to track the stage you're at for each part of a project. It is also useful for sharing your progress with other people.

Prioritise the tougher jobs

It's likely that there are some tasks you prefer to others. If possible, make sure you put those lower down on your to-do list. Difficult tasks will drag even longer if it’s the last thing you need to do, so aim to end on a high. It will also motivate you to finish quicker if you're working towards a preferred task. Just make sure you don't rush through the hard jobs and get it right first time, otherwise you might end up doing it twice. 

Take breaks and time them right

The benefits of taking breaks are well documented. They restore motivation, prevent, 'decision fatigue' and it's a chance for you to absorb what you've learnt. There are physical health benefits of getting away from your screen and it will help you approach a problem that you're stuck on from a new angle. But don’t take breaks when you're in a flow, completely absorbed in a task with effortless concentration. If you find yourself in a good flow it's a sign that you don't need a break and might end up stunting your progress if you take one.

Get rid of distractions

Wearing headphones might not be helping as much as you think. There are many studies that show people work and concentrate better in silence, so if it's a really important deadline, it might be best to sit in silence and focus on the job at hand. If you find the surrounding tapping of keyboards and discussion of weekend plans around you even more distracting, the studies suggest that the music you choose is important. Music without lyrics is better for focusing, so choose instrumentals or alternatively, video game soundtracks are a whole genre designed to stimulate your senses and help you concentrate on another task.

We hope that next time you have to tackle a daunting to-do list, you remember some of this advice and you’re able to take it in your stride. These tips are about setting up the perfect environment for you to be productive, now it’s up to you to get your head down and put the work in.

Read our related blog: How to be happy at work

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