Five survival tips for when you're feeling overwhelmed at work

Keeping ahead in today's high pressure and competitive business environment can be stressful, but there are a few simple techniques that can help you take back control–for the benefit of your team, yourself and your company.

The demands of running a business or being a team leader have never been greater. No matter which industry you're in, there are local and international competitors to face, disruptive forces to watch, technology to get on top of, and a continual fight for customer loyalty.

In addition, the pace of business is now so fast that clients demand prompt responses and expedited delivery–meaning everyone is under the pump, project turnarounds are shorter and expectations are high.

At KPMG, we help many companies when they're in the middle of their busiest and most challenging times. We know from experience there's always a way through if you have a clear strategy, good planning and the right skills at hand. To help you dial down your sense of feeling overwhelmed, we've compiled our top five tips to get you back in control:

  1. Should I be doing that?

    No one is a master of all trades, but many business owners and managers feel as though they need to implement complex strategy, make big decisions, and tackle the toughest tasks, themselves.

    Sometimes it's because you love it, don't trust others yet, or it's simply a habit. However, the result is that you're weighed down in work that people with greater technical knowledge and experience could do. You need to be freed up to focus on the tasks that need to be completed by you.

    Before taking on more, ask yourself: 'am I the only person who can do this?' If the answer is 'no', it's time to delegate within your team, train someone else, or bring in an expert to help get it done.

  2. Set aside some thinking time

    If you're bombarded with emails, demands and deadlines, it may seem like setting aside time to simply 'think' is only going to make matters worse. But many world leaders and visionary minds, such as former US President Barak Obama, have advocated the benefits of self-reflection.

    Setting aside just 15 minutes a day, or perhaps one morning every week, to think, plan and prioritise, can clear your head, as well as lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

  3. Chunk it down

    Some tasks can feel like you're chipping away at Mt. Everest. A technology transformation, team restructure, implementing a new product or service, or reaching into new markets can all lead to stress.

    Breaking the project or problem down into smaller tasks can make it achievable. Map out long- and short-term goals, and communicate constantly with team members and stakeholders about progress.

    This will highlight where you need to allocate extra resources, where you may have a skills gap or where you could be duplicating tasks.

  4. Talk with your team

    Businesses are interconnected operations, and if you, or someone in your team, is struggling with their workload, it can have a flow-on effect. There's nothing worse than feeling like you're letting down your colleagues, clients or stakeholders.

    Talking to your team could reveal they're feeling exactly the same way. Together, brainstorm solutions to the overload. It could be as simple as bolstering your team with some short-term expert resources.

  5. Take a break

    Grab a colleague and take your meeting or discussion outside. Walking meetings can boost creativity, inspiration, generate more candid conversations and reduce distractions. It might be just what you need to have that 'light bulb' moment, to discover a different way to tackle your workload. And, you get bonus points for the exercise.

    Things can feel overwhelming at times, but with good communication, a solid plan and some short term expert help, you will get there.


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