How to cope when you have too much to do

Too much to do

We all know the feeling: you have so much work to tackle that you probably won’t be done until the end of the year. And as always when you have too much to do, new tasks just keep coming in!

As a result, you’re feeling incredibly stressed, don’t know where to start, and keep jumping from one project to the next without ever finishing anything.

Does this sound familiar?

The truth is, these situations will never feel like a walk in the park. But if you tackle your immense workload methodically and follow the suggestions outlined below, you will be able to finish on time and not completely freak out.

Don’t take on more work when you already have too much to do

As silly as it sounds, it’s hard to say no to projects when they go hand in hand with more money.

If you’re a freelancer like me, you probably know what I mean. Each additional task means additional pay, and who can say no to that?

But no matter how much you want the money: taking on more work when you’re already swamped is always a bad idea. You will not have enough time to devote to each task. In the end, You’ll probably end up decreasing your work quality just to get everything done. Do you really want to deliver something you’re not 100% proud of?

So no matter how tempting it is to accept a new project: if you’ve already got too much to deal with, just pass on it.

Write everything down

If you’ve read my posts before, you’ll know that I’m obsessed with to-do lists. And there’s a good reason for that!

There’s only so much we can remember at a time. If you’ve got a crazy workload, chances are that there a million little things you have to think of. Keeping all of it in your head will just add to your stress, and you’re practically bound to forget something!

Instead, write everything down in a comprehensive to-do list. This way, you’ll get a much better overview of all the work you have to do. And you won’t need to stress about forgetting anything!

I’ve explained in detail how to best prioritise your to-do list here. If you’re interested, be sure to check out all my tips!

Don’t plan too little time for each task

You have way too much to do, and all you can think of is the relief you’ll feel when all that is done. I get that. But dreaming about being done can negatively impact your time management.

For instance, you might be tempted to plan too little time to finish all your tasks, hoping that you’ll just make it work somehow.

Well, I don’t recommend you do that.

First of all, planning too little time per task will constantly make you feel like you’re underperforming. Missing a deadline is just not fun. Even if you imposed that deadline on yourself and know that is was a bit optimistic.

And second of all, you won’t be able to accurately prioritise your tasks if you don’t get your time management straight.

So, instead of setting a schedule you wish you could follow, create one that’s actually realistic.

Spending a bit of extra time on time management and prioritisation will assure that you don’t miss any deadlines. It will prevent you from jumping from one task to the next without getting anything done.

Don’t put your life on hold

Yes, I know, you have too much work to do. But just because your workload has increased, this doesn’t mean that you suddenly don’t have to eat, or drink, or see your family anymore.

No matter how heavy your workload is, you can’t put your life on hold until it’s done. It’s not a sustainable solution!

Instead, allow yourself to sleep, have breakfast, exercise, and take little breaks to recharge. If you follow a balanced lifestyle, you’ll have more energy and be more productive. And this, in turn, means that you’ll get everything done much faster.

Turn off all distractions

We’re most productive when we focus on one single task at a time and devote 100% of our attention to it. So if you have too much to do, be sure to work out a realistic time schedule and stick to it. Do not switch between tasks!

A great way to limit any distractions is to turn off your phone, close your outlook and any other messaging service you might use, and work on the task you scheduled until you’re done.

You can plan time in between tasks to check your emails and respond to them. But even then, don’t bother replying to things that aren’t important!

Being able to work on one thing at a time not only makes you more efficient, but it does a great job at limiting stress, too. Following this strategy will make you more focused, so you’ll finish your work a lot quicker!

How to cope when you have too much to do

So here you go, these are the basic rules I follow whenever I have too much to do. Please let me know if they work for you, or if you have any other tips to share!

8 Replies to “How to cope when you have too much to do”

  1. I agree with what you said about keeping a balance between work and everything else that goes on in life. I also find that I’m more productive and focused when I dedicate time to other areas of my life, not just work.
    And turning off the distractions is something I should implement more often.

    1. To me, it makes such a difference! I finish tasks so much faster when I have no distractions. 🙂

  2. I used to become terribly anxious when I had a lot to do and little time (or sometimes no interest) in getting things done. In the past couple of years, I have been transitioning from a day job to running our creative businesses. What I have had to do is to stop being a superstar at work and in our extended family activities. Now, I just do the minimum and sometimes choose not to do some of those non-vital things that they ask. I save all that time and energy for getting more done in our businesses. This has been an incredible help and I feel incredibly accomplished with the goals that matter and feel as if I have dodged so many bullets from the BS that folks who plan to work there forever get hit by. Thanks for offering some of those other tips that have been at the root of my success.

    1. YES, I love what you said! It’s true that so many things that seem urgent don’t even need to be done. It’s a great idea to priortise “done” over “perfect”, especially when I don’t have much time.
      Also, congratulations on your successful business! 🙂

  3. Love these tips!! I take on a lot and struggle with saying no to new projects! This was great!

    1. I do, too! But we have to remind ourselves that it’s not worth risking a burnout. 😉
      I’m glad that you liked the tips!

  4. This is great, as a freelancer I’m always tempted to say yes to work even though I have a stable client list and income. Several years in, I still panic until my calendar is booked for the month. But it’s important to do that to preserve your sanity and also to avoid settling for work that isn’t really important to you.

    1. That’s so great! And I totally agree. I’ve been doing this for one year and I always panic that I won’t make enough money until the end of the month… At first, I accepted every job I was handed, even if the clients were horrible and barely paid. And I’ve lost so much time doing this type of work instead of developing a real portfolio.

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