Freaking Out? Here Are 5 Tips For When You Are Overwhelmed With Work

We all have those days when it just seems like we are constantly climbing and not getting anywhere. Every time we answer an email, five more appear. It is never ending. It seems like just letting the stress take over and freaking out would be way easier then actually trying to accomplish tasks. But do not give up. Take a breath and try doing these things.

Make a doable to-do list

Oh the to-do list. For some, it is our greatest downfall. For others, it is a way of life. But writing down what you have to do and then physically crossing off is one of the greatest natural highs out there. But do not put 100 things on that list because then you are setting yourself up for failure.

Half the battle is really just writing everything down. Ken Zeigler, a productivity and time management expert who has conducted over 16 years of research in the field, told LearnVest people should try a master list (he still finds pen to paper to work the best) where you keep all to-do items (whether financial, personal or professional) for an entire week. When you have a thought, write it down immediately, then delete it from your mind. “Allow your mind to be a strategic thinker,” he says, “not a memory chip.”

Don’t multitask your breaks

Just because you think you are able to read spoilers for “Orange is the New Black” while you answer emails, doesn’t mean you should or that it will help you. Take a real break. Go for a walk around the block or call a friend.  Don’t mix work with a leisure activity. Set clear boundaries. And always eat lunch because low blood-sugar leads to poor work.

Analyze your energy

Figure out when the best time of day is to give yourself the more challenging tasks. You may think you are tired in the morning but you actually may get the most done (sometimes not being a morning person just means you don’t like to talk to people, but you are super efficient.) Don’t leave the really hard stuff for the afternoon when you are burnt out (or ready for a nap!).

Get an accountability team

You may not hold yourself accountable, but other people will. Tell them about your plans and tell them to ask you for updates.

Use an awesome App

Whitney Johnson, co-founder and president of investment firm Rose Park Advisors and author of Dare Dream Do, uses Workflowy to help herself be more productive. “It allows me to better organize myself, by mimicking the way I naturally think: by making a list of high level ideas and tasks and then breaking them into smaller pieces. For example, I have started with Personal and Work as my two broad categories. Under Work, I’ve created sublists such as Rose Park Advisors, Book launch, and HBR blog. You can subdivide lists like this almost infinitely. With the daily possibility that I will get nothing done because I have so much to do (and I can’t find the envelope that I wrote my last list on), Workflowy is an ideal brain-clutter buster,” she wrote.  Read about other great Apps for productivity here.