by Ed Hunter
Aug 15 2018
If you are good at your job, you may find yourself being tasked with additional work such as implementing new initiatives or working with high profile clients. It is a common trend – those who do good work get more work. This can leave high-performing and trusted employees feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Funny enough, the top result of a Google search on “being good at your job” is an article about the danger of being good at your job. A 2015 Duke University study found that having high self-control (an indicator of success) might have negative interpersonal costs, leading individuals to become burdened by others’ reliance.
What to do? While you may feel grateful for the opportunity to get more experience and advance professionally, the work might take a toll and you may find yourself feeling resentful.
Check-in with Yourself – Assess Your Stress
According to the CDC’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, studies have found that the number of Americans who are “extremely stressed at work” range between 29 percent to 40 percent.
Bad stress or “hindrance” stress is the stress that hinders progress. You may find it difficult to prioritize tasks and you may feel overwhelmed. Check in with yourself to identify what triggers your feelings of stress and acknowledge how you react. Self-awareness is the first step to moving in a positive direction. When you start to feel the stress creep up, you will feel prepared to handle the next step – implementing a strategy to continue.
- Find your stress relief solution: Oftentimes, we know what we should be doing to keep our stress in check but we don’t make the time for it. If you know that going for a run after work helps you clear your head, make sure to schedule time for exercise.
- Focus (stop multitasking!): Research shows that multi-tasking does not work. It especially does not work when you are overwhelmed. The Stanford study found that “frequent multitaskers had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another.”
- Prioritize: Take a deep breath and prioritize your to-do list. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when looking at competing priorities. Identify what the priority is for each day and go with it. If you have options, think about what task would be the most enjoyable for you based on your current headspace.
If your workload becomes unmanageable and you feel that the quality of your work (and your mental health) is suffering, discuss your concerns with your supervisor. Ask for guidance on what tasks should be priority. Ask for permission to delegate and share the workload with others on the team. As a valued employee, you have the opportunity to positively impact change through advocating for appropriate workloads.
The Silver Living
“I feel that the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.” Jonas Salk on receiving the Congressional Medal for Distinguished Civilian Achievement (medical researcher and inventor of the vaccine against Polio)
If you are trusted with important work, it means that your contributions are important to your organization. It also means that you are developing professionally and learning new aspects of your work. We often learn the most through challenges. In challenging situations that require careful navigation and forethought, we gain important skills such as managing multiple priorities and handling stress.
Do Unto Others…
If you are in a management position, be mindful of the amount of work that you put on your rock star employees. It may seem like a no-brainer to give the project to the person you have the most confidence in – but take a moment to assess what else that person has on their plate. Consider discussing the project with this individual. Share that while you know they would do a great job, you are mindful about their workload and don’t want them to be spread too thin. Ask them if they have a colleague in mind that they think would do a good job. Maybe they can serve in a consulting role – offering ideas and opinions but allowing someone else to manage the day-to-day work.