Despite current knowledge around the dangers of work-related stress, we still live in a world where burnout is worn as a badge of honor. But overwork doesn’t necessarily lead to over-achieving. In fact, it can depress your ability to function and be productive.
Recognizing the signs of being overwhelmed at work is the first step to regaining balance.
The weight of work demands and responsibilities can often leave us feeling trapped in a relentless cycle of stress and uncertainty. This guide will delve into the roots of workplace overwhelm and offer strategies to combat these challenges. Whether you're an employee feeling the pressure or a manager trying to support your struggling team, we will help you reclaim balance and regain control over your professional life.
5 signs you’re overwhelmed at work
Feeling stressed at the office? Here are five red flags indicating that work pressures might be taking a toll on you:
1. Constantly tired
Even after a good night’s sleep, you find yourself dragging your feet and relying heavily on caffeine to make it through the day. You’re not just physically tired but experiencing a cocktail of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion.
2. Procrastination trap
Tasks stack up endlessly, yet you’re having trouble finding the willpower to finish them. Continually putting off tasks becomes your norm, and you don’t feel engaged at work. This is a widespread sentiment, with 3 in 5 workers believing work-related stress impedes their performance.
3. Work never leaves your mind
The confines of the office might physically limit you, but mentally, you shouldn’t feel trapped. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, work-related worries and responsibilities consume your thoughts. Even during supposed downtime, you have trouble switching off and relaxing.
4. Emotional rollercoaster
One minute, you're riding high, confident, and in control. The next, you feel like you're moments away from a breakdown. It's like you’re riding an emotional roller coaster that you’re not steering.
5. Battle with self-doubt
Every decision you make feels like a potential mistake. You constantly question yourself and wonder if you’re doing the right thing. When self-doubt clouds your judgment, even the most minor tasks seem tough. This persistent internal turmoil is the death of confidence.
What causes you to feel overwhelmed at work?
Believe it or not, stress, anxiety, and depression cost the global economy 12 billion working days yearly and around $1 trillion in lost productivity. Identifying and understanding the root causes of workplace stress is the first step toward a solution, so let’s take a look at what’s causing this problem.
A shocking 50% of employees say that an overburdened workload is one of their main stressors. It's concerning when half of the working population signals the alarm.
When overwhelmed with tasks, completing them with a high standard becomes a challenge. As you struggle to juggle between assignments, work quality inevitably diminishes. You're more prone to errors, oversights, and eventual burnout. The consequences aren't limited to workplace outcomes but affect an employee’s mental and emotional well-being.
For many, daily stress isn’t a fleeting feeling — it’s an everyday reality for 44% of workers. The pressure of deadlines, especially those that are tight or overly ambitious, is like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
These unrealistic expectations can lead to all-nighters, skipped lunches, and the haunting sensation of insufficient time. Moreover, constantly working under pressure of impractical deadlines can cause feelings of hopelessness and dread. It's no wonder so many workers experience intense stress day in and day out.
Poor work-life balance
When work and professional obligations invade your time, disconnecting and recharging is hard. Blurred work-life boundaries manifest in constant fatigue and resentment and can cause friction in personal relationships.
In a telling statistic, 76% of US workers revealed that their workplace stress has had a tangible, negative impact on their relationships. This highlights the profound ripple effects of a skewed work-life balance on society as a whole.
Lack of clear communication or direction
The significance of clear communication can't be stressed enough, especially when 80% of US workers report feeling stressed because of ambiguous communication from their company.
Without clear communication from management, the work environment becomes chaotic and directionless. Ambiguous tasks, constantly shifting goalposts, and unclear expectations amplify uncertainty and brew frustration. The fallout is a workforce that feels unvalued, unheard, and perpetually in the dark.
8 strategies to stop feeling overwhelmed at work
Unfortunately, feeling overwhelmed at work is a widespread issue that affects a large portion of the modern workforce. But there's hope. Here are eight tried-and-tested strategies to help you navigate through the chaos.
1. Prioritize and delegate tasks
When you're faced with a seemingly endless list of tasks, knowing what needs immediate attention and what can wait makes a big difference.
It's a best practice to tackle tasks with the highest priority first so you can devote most of your energy to them. In addition, finding out which time of day you're most productive will help you schedule deep work sessions during those peak energy periods.
However, it's equally important to understand that you don’t have to shoulder everything. Delegating work builds trust within teams and empowers collaboration. Sharing responsibilities often brings richer ideas and diverse solutions.
Managing your workload effectively will significantly reduce overwhelming feelings because you will feel more in control.
With tools like Motion, task prioritization and delegation become automatic. We prioritize your work tasks so you always know what to do next. You also don’t need to take on more than you can chew. With Motion, project tasks are delegated to the most appropriate team members.
2. Practice single-tasking
Multi-tasking can seem like a good way to get more done in a limited time, but it just spreads your attention across multiple tasks. Not only does this dilute your focus, but it also leads to more errors and unfinished projects.
Compared to multi-tasking, single-tasking channels all your energy and concentration into one task at a time. Undivided attention boosts the quality of your work and your efficiency. By focusing on only one task, you can actually finish it faster and do it to your best ability.
How Motion can help:
Motion recognizes the power of focused work. It facilitates time blocking and sets aside dedicated slots for deep work, ensuring you get the uninterrupted time you need to excel in a task.
3. Set boundaries between work and life
Because technology enables us to be connected at work 24/7, a separation between work and personal life is necessary. Creating a distinct boundary ensures you don't carry work stress into your personal life.
Whether it's setting strict working hours, designating work-free zones in your home, or scheduling dedicated downtime, these boundaries safeguard your mental health. Resting rejuvenates the mind and spirit.
Maintaining this balance boosts productivity when you’re working and allows you to enjoy your time off truly.
Motion assists in carving out this work-life balance. By integrating both your work and personal schedules into Motion's calendar, you actively build rest and pleasure into your day.
4. Give yourself a break
It's easy to push yourself too hard, and that’s precisely why you need to give yourself a break — both literally and figuratively. This means taking regular breaks throughout your workday and letting yourself off the hook for not finishing your work sometimes.
Not every day will be perfect, and only some tasks will be completed. Giving yourself a physical and mental break helps you improve focus, prevent burnout, and bounce back.
It’s crucial to practice self-compassion. Recognize your effort, and understand that it's okay not to have everything done all the time.
With Motion’s scheduling features, you can plan regular breaks into your daily schedule to remind you to turn off the workflow and relax.
5. Ask for help
Swallowing your pride and admitting you're overwhelmed isn't a sign of weakness or incompetency. Rather, it’s a testament to your self-awareness.
Asking for help or collaborating with colleagues can reduce your workload and bring in a fresh set of eyes. Sharing responsibilities taps into the team's collective intelligence and can even lead to more innovative approaches.
Motion improves team communication by letting you directly comment and communicate on projects and tasks. Whether it's to ask for assistance, give feedback, or discuss a task, Motion fosters a collaborative environment where asking for help is a few clicks away.
6. Realign goals and expectations
Sometimes, we set big goals and expectations that, over time, may not reflect our current reality or the team dynamic. It's okay to take a step back, assess, and adjust your targets to make them more realistic and achievable.
Matching personal capabilities with broader team objectives creates a more harmonious and productive working environment. It also makes sure everyone is working toward the same goals.
Motion clearly shows your project’s progress and who’s contributing to what. By tracking project progress and understanding everyone's role, you can ensure your contributions align with the team's direction.
7. Limit distractions
We’re living in a hyper-connected world where notifications, emails, and constant updates can sidetrack productivity. In fact, 79% of employees say they feel distracted at work every day.
Although unplanned interruptions may only pull you away momentarily, it actually takes more time to regain focus afterward. This on-and-off focus can quickly drain your mental energy and productivity, which increases stress.
Proactively limiting these distractions helps you create a work environment that allows you to focus and channel your energy into meaningful work.
Unpredictable distractions and events can sometimes throw a wrench in the best-laid plans. But with Motion, you don't have to start from scratch. We automatically rebuild your schedule when distractions get in the way.
8. Stay organized with technology
It’s not enough to keep a tidy workspace; you must also declutter your mind. The overload of information, tasks, and deadlines can overwhelm even the most meticulous person.
So, streamline your responsibilities with technology. With Motion, you simplify your workflow by keeping track of deadlines, centralizing project details, and scheduling tasks efficiently.
Think of Motion as your personal task manager — we go beyond helping you organize your work. We take care of recurring, tedious, and time-consuming tasks, so you can focus on what truly matters.
Advice for managers dealing with overwhelmed employees
Managers play a crucial role in identifying feelings of being overwhelmed and actively working to alleviate them. Here’s what you can do for your team:
One of the most effective ways a manager can support an overwhelmed employee is by actively listening. Give them your full attention without judgment, and try understanding the employee's perspective. Figuring out the root cause will help you offer tangible solutions and provide assurance. Your employees will feel more valued and understood.
Recognition goes a long way. A simple word of appreciation, acknowledgment of their hard work, or a thank you note can make all the difference. This validation motivates employees and also combats feelings of inadequacy. It reminds them that their contribution is important and seen. Genuine appreciation will stand out and solidify a bond of trust and loyalty within the team.
Flexible work solutions
A notable 34% of employees suggest that flexible work hours can help relieve overwhelming feelings. Giving employees the freedom to choose their work hours, location, or task approach allows managers to address individual preferences. For example, implementing hybrid or remote work models lets employees determine their ideal work setting. Giving flexibility to your team shows you trust them and have respect for their autonomy.
Mental health initiatives
With 37% of employees asserting that mental health resources support their well-being, it's evident that such initiatives have become a necessity. Managers should prioritize providing accessible resources and actively promote a culture where seeking help is normalized and encouraged.
Take back control with Motion
Overwhelmed by the daily grind? Motion helps you take back control. We give you a balanced workday by automating task prioritization, limiting distractions, and integrating work-life schedules.
Boost your productivity without feeling swamped — try Motion today.