How to cope with a heavy workload

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As a Client Account Manager for Total Assist Group, I have plenty of experience of dealing with a heavy and high pressured workload. We partner with NHS trusts and private clinics across the whole of the UK, even working with hospitals as far afield as Northern Ireland and Scotland. With so many hospitals relying on us to source high calibre and experience medical staff, there is no time to stop – my team and I receive about 600 to 700 emails daily each, and that’s in between all of the phone calls and face to face meetings that we also take.

No matter how rewarding your chosen career is, struggling under a never-ending workload can be stressful, and it is important that you don’t let it overwhelm you. Here are some of the methods I’ve used over the years to keep my workload in check, to make sure I still deliver results.

Managing your daily tasks efficiently

1) Create a to-do list. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of writing down the tasks you want to achieve – sitting down first thing in the morning and listing the jobs you need to do by the end of play is really helpful in mapping out what you need to do and when by. Having a physical list also helps you rank the tasks in order of importance which is useful for prioritising.

2) Manage expectations. Be realistic with your deadlines and give accurate estimations about when management can expect to see tasks finished. There is no point in rushing and then delivering sub-standard work. Take the time to do it right first time round.

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3) Be flexible. Although you may have a set plan of action, you should consider factoring in ‘response time’. You will undoubtedly be interrupted by phone calls, colleagues and email notifications, so it is wise to allocate some time to any emergencies that may crop up.

4) Think teamwork. Working as part of a team has advantages, and if you are struggling, then by all means, ask for help if you need it. If you are in a management role, then you should delegate tasks to the most suitable member of staff, but if you are one of the ranks, then make sure to utilise your colleagues’ skill sets to help get tasks completed quicker. Return the favour whenever possible.

5) Get in the zone. Being distracted is easily done however it doesn’t help you maintain your productivity. One idea is to only check your emails at set points during the day, for example once an hour, turning off notifications so that you can work on tasks without being tempted to click through to new messages. Another tip here is to reflect on how you personally work best – we are all at our most productive at different points during the day. You should pencil in your most difficult tasks for when you are at your most productive, leaving the easier stuff for when you are finding it hard to focus.

6) Know your working patterns. Sometimes it can be tricky to plan your working day when you don’t actually know how long certain tasks take you. Keeping a record of your working week will give you an insight in to how many hours you spend on certain activities and will help you manage your time better as well as see where you can fine tune your efficiency.

7) Have a lunch break. A lot of overworked people believe that taking a lunch break is a professional no-no but I believe otherwise. Giving yourself a time out to chow down will give you time to refocus, and give your eyes a break from the computer screen, ensuring that your quality of work does not slip from tiredness. Even just 20 minutes will help as you can’t maintain your focus for the entire length of a typical working day.

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8) Keep colleagues in the loop. Making sure the members of your team, or the people you are working on projects with are kept up to date is a useful tool for re-organising your workload. For example, deadlines may be adjusted whilst challenges are dealt with, and colleagues can be included in the decision making process, which can help you prioritise certain tasks that need more immediate attention.

9) Learn to say no. You don’t have an endless capacity, so if you feel a certain job or task would be better suited to a colleague, or is something you just can’t take on at the present moment in time then explain so to the person asking you to do it. To always maintain a high level of work you have to know how much you can take on and handle in one hit.

10) Prioritise. This is probably one of the most important. You may fancy getting all the fast and easy tasks out of the way first just to make yourself feel better, however this may not be the smartest use of your time. Again, work out which tasks are urgent and which tasks are important and which tasks are both to help you order what needs to be done first.

Quick fire tips: stay on top of a stacked in tray

  • Think in terms of baby steps and not the big picture, as this can make tasks seem too monumental. Focus on the next action that will move a project or task forward and do that
  • Have a tidy up and organise your work area and desk so that you know where everything is. This will help you be more productive and efficient
  • Struggling to know what to do first? Look to tasks that progress your team strategy or company vision
  • Be communicative – if you need more time to do a decent job then speak to your manager
  • If you are having trouble keeping your focus, then try splitting your day in to two or three hour sessions, plotting which tasks you aim to complete in which sessions. This will help break up your day further and keep you on track

[testimonial name=”Linzi Fallows” who=”Client Account Manager” imagelinks=”” vertical=”no”]”I have been working as a Client Account Manager for Total Assist Group for a number of years now. I work with NHS trusts mainly in the North of the UK as well as some in the South. If you wish to work in these areas, then let me know and I’d be happy to help.”[/testimonial]