How to Know Where to Focus when Your Manager is Piling Too Much on Your Plate

Ever have one of those days, weeks, or months where the items you have to complete at work just seem to be piling up by the minute?

It can be incredibly overwhelming, right? Especially if you reach that point where your workload seems so insurmountable that you lose focus and have trouble deciding where to start…

If this sounds familiar, then rest assured that you are certainly not alone in your struggle! Each and every one of us, I think, has experienced overwhelm when it comes to our workload, regardless of the job title we hold. And I think that this is even more true when we consider the fast-paced world that we live in today.

But guess what… Just because your workload seems like it’s a mile high and won’t be easy to accomplish doesn’t mean that you need to buckle under all of that pressure! With a little bit of effort to refocus, I promise you that you can (and will) make it over that hurdle.

On Episode 120 this week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Pete Mockaitis, the host to the well-renowned podcast called How to be Awesome at Your Job and award-winning coach who helps professionals perform optimally at work.

We chatted about one of his favorite productivity tips, called the 80/20 rule, and it had me thinking a lot about ways that we can take back ownership of our time and refocus our energy when our work load is really beginning to pile up on us at the office.

So, in that light, I encourage you to check out Episode 120 if you haven’t already to learn all about the 80/20 rule (because it’s a total game-changer when it comes to your productivity)… And stick around here while we dive into some more of my favorite ways to find the focus you need to get those important work tasks out of your way–and off of your plate–as smoothly and effectively as possible!

Ready to jump in?


6 Steps to Rise Above

When There’s A lot on Your Plate


1. Write Out Your Task List—

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but believe it or not… When the workload seems to be piling up more and more, it can be easy to lose sight of just how much we have to get done!

The very first step in overcoming the chaos is to sit down and write out all of the items on your task list. What are the things that you absolutely need to accomplish? Write them down and keep them nearby so you can refer and add to (or subtract from!) your list when you need to.


2. Prioritize Your Tasks—

We have talked a lot about priorities and how to prioritize our tasks on the podcast often (check out Episodes 006 and 024 for a refresher!) and there’s a reason for it… Prioritizing your tasks, especially when it seems like you have a lot on your plate and very little time to get it all done, is imperative to moving beyond the point of analysis paralysis and procrastination so that you can get back on the right track.

Once you’ve created your task list, ask yourself which tasks are your hot-ticket items? Assess each task on your list by importance and urgency… And then look to see where you might be able to bank your time so that you can get some of those like-items taken care of with a little more ease.


3. Focus on Value—

Value is just one of the ideas that we can pull from Episode 120 this week as it relates to the 80/20 rule, so again, be sure to tune in there if you haven’t already!

As you look at your task list, more than likely you’ll notice that you have a few things (or more than a few!) that clutter up your workday and zap your time… but this doesn’t necessarily mean that those clutter-prone items are essential!

It could be that those items are some that you’ve always done, urgent or not (answering emails at the drop of a hat is a great example here).

To declutter your workday, focus on the value that each of your tasks offers when you complete it. Ask yourself, for example, does answering all of those emails truly matter in terms of my productivity and lessening my workload? What makes the task you’re considering important in the grand scheme of things?

In other words, which items on your list will lend the most impact to your day and to your productivity overall?

Considering the value of each of your tasks will help you organize your priority list easier, and it will also allow you to give yourself permission to let some of those non-urgent and not-important items fall off your task list immediately.


4. Delegate When Possible—

Now that you’ve narrowed down the value of your tasks and have organized them into your priority list, chances are… your workload is looking a little lighter! At least, let’s hope so, right?

The next step here is to determine which of your hot-ticket items actually need to be done by you. Take a look at your list and ask yourself if there is anything that you could delegate to one of your team members.

Don’t have anyone on your team to delegate to? Don’t worry! In some cases, you may be able to lighten your load by creating automaton systems to help you with some of your tasks. For some help here, refer back to Episode 035!


5. Plan Ahead—

Let’s face it… Even when we get down to the nitty gritty of what we need to get accomplished, sometimes the narrowed-down workload can still seem like it’s way too much.

This is when it’s important to be proactive. Take a look at your priority list and, as strange as this may sound… prioritize your priorities some more. This essentially means that you need to take a look at your list and figure out if you’re going to miss any deadlines.

If that’s the case, then the next step is to notify the relevant parties immediately about the delay. As difficult as this may be, it’s not uncommon and it doesn’t make you a bad person by any stretch! These things happen from time to time and it’s important to take ownership when these hiccups arise.

Just remember, it’s always better to give someone advanced warning of a delay than to scramble to get everything done, only to have to notify someone that the work will remain incomplete at the eleventh hour.


6. Just Start—

At IWP we have a graph notepad with the phrase Just Start on it… And there’s a reason for it!

When your workload is piling high, one of the very best things that you can do is to stop any tendency to procrastinate you have dead in its tracks and just get started. After all, the work will never stop piling up if we don’t take the initiative to jump in somewhere, right?


How do you handle your tasks when your workload keeps piling up? Share any tips and tricks you have in the comments below… And check out Episode 120 to learn all about Pete Mockaitis, the work that he does, and the 80/20 productivity rule that he swears by, both at home and at work!


You Might Also Like

  • How To Find More ‘You’ Time After Your Workday
  • 4 Ways You Can Expand Your Time
  • The One Rule to Follow When You Feel Overwhelmed at Work
  • Amy Bridges

    Love this list, because I can get to this point so easily! In step 6, there can be value in “just pick something and do it.” Often, doing SOMETHING breaks us out of the paralysis. However, it’s important to then go back to the priority list: it’s so easy to start picking all of the “low-hanging fruit” and not spending time on the Things That Matter.

    May 2, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton