Tim Gallwey, the former tennis pro considered to be one of the founders of the modern-day coaching movement, believes the amount of interference in our lives is a major obstacle to our potential and in turn our ability to perform well.

We can ponder this statement in lots of contexts. How you manage a heavy workload has much to do with the elements Gallwey cites. It’s all about maintaining a level of performance worthy of your potential when time is lacking, and we’re experiencing too much interference.

When you think about your potential, do you always have the wherewithal to do the work you need to under pressure?

  1. Avoid Distractions

It’s easy to be distracted from our jobs, particularly in the current wfh climate, and when combined with a growing to-do list becoming pre-occupied browsing the internet or raiding the snack drawer becomes almost inevitable. When we have an overwhelming amount to do, we often look for diversions; we want to have fun away from the tasks at hand because we have a fear of getting stuck in. However, the tasks aren’t going to magically disappear no matter how much we procrastinate, so it’s best to avoid distractions and get on with it – rather than seeking them out.

  1. Prioritise

When we have a to-do list that’s dauntingly long, it can be hard to know where to start. Take a deep breath and re-organise that list so that your priorities are at the top. What are the tasks that need to be done soonest, whether you want to do them now or not? Think about this question in terms of what will benefit your organisation and the organisation’s stakeholders. Unfortunately, it cannot be about you at this moment. It’s also worth remembering in the context of prioritisation; urgent and important have two different meanings.

  1. Think Quality Not Quantity

When trying to manage a heavy workload the seemingly obvious stance is to work longer hours. However, this may not always be the most appropriate way forward. Instead, think about how to optimise your performance, so that you’re producing more and better work per hour, rather than simply producing the same amount and standard of work over more hours.

  1. Take it Out of the Office

Optimising your performance may ironically mean working fewer hours in the office. That’s not to say you’ll be working fewer hours overall. Once businesses start operating from offices again, seek permission from your boss to work remotely during times of high pressure at work, as that way you’ll be less likely to get sucked into the on-site stress and tension, which can adversely affect your performance.

  1. Get Fitter

If you’ve been working until midnight every night this week, you may well be thinking that you need to make up for this sedentary state by upping your fitness regime. This is a good idea because the fitter we are, the greater levels of energy we have. You need as much as energy as possible during this time. Check out our Well-Being section for tips on how to get fitter.

  1. Take Regular Breaks

When dealing with a heavy workload you’ll be working longer hours throughout the day and maybe into the night as well, so it’s really important to regularly take time out for a little respite.

  1. Report Back 

Think about how you update colleagues and / or clients on your progress. What are the reporting processes at your work? If you get a process in place for regularly reporting back to your boss, he or she is more likely to be able to support you and to understand what your needs are during this time.

  1. Use Technology

Just because you’re reporting back regularly to your manager, it doesn’t mean this has to take up a lot of your time. Even if you’re checking in with your boss twice a day at 9am and 5pm, you don’t need to be in the same room as them. A daily report by email or instant messenger may suffice so long as it is there by the time it needs to be.

  1. Ask for Help 

Ask your boss about getting some of your colleagues to help you out. Think about how you can attract and connect with your co-workers during this busy period. For example, if your boss is expecting a report by the end of June and your heavy workload is pushing that into mid-July, ask a colleague to help write the report while you deal with the other stuff.

  1. Deal with it Quickly

Periods where you’ll have a heavy workload are of course inevitable, but the trick is to make sure they don’t drag on and merge into one another. Every time you have a heavy workload, clear it as quickly as you can without compromising performance or professionalism. It’s important we recognise a heavy workload mustn’t turn into a long-term or routine situation. That would not be beneficial in the long term to you, the team or your line manager.

Most teams have a heavy workload at some point in the year. Learn when they are and prepare yourself for them.

Simon North, Associate Coach