Kristin Neemann

Kristin Neemann

Creative Strategist

Kristin Kelly

Kristin Kelly

Brand & Communications Manager

Keeping Your Sanity Under a Heavy Workload

July 19, 2016

Heavy workloads happen. And in our deadline-driven industry, you usually just have to power through it – with a smile.

We know that feeling well. In January, we lost half of our four-person public relations team with one team member on maternity leave and another who moved on to her next career adventure. That left two of us to carry out the work of several (very busy) clients.

Fortunately, we survived. And it was all for the greater good. But it wasn’t always easy. And we learned a lot about workload management along the way.

1. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.

When the going gets tough at work, it’s easy to skip lunch and hard to find time for things like sleep, exercise and relaxation. But these things are even more important during times of craziness.

Job stress is no joke, and according to the CDC, can lead to poor health and mental health. It also decreases productivity and morale.

Focus on a healthy, balanced diet and prioritize sleep to ensure you are giving your mind and body proper fuel and sufficient recovery time. Schedule downtime every couple of hours during the workday. Even a short, five-minute break refreshes you and prepares you for your next stretch of work. And be sure to exercise regularly to relieve stress – at Emspace, we like to take walking breaks outside.


2. Prioritize your priorities.

All of our clients are doing equally important work in our community – and we love them all equally. So how can we possibly define what’s most important and how do we manage that workflow?

  • Make a list. It sounds simple, but just make a big, long list of what you need to do. On Monday morning, make a list of everything you need to get done for the week, based on your upcoming deadlines. Then, cut that down to what needs to be done today. Then to what needs to be done that morning. Then to your top three tasks. Then two. Then one. Then get to work. Repeat on Tuesday.
  • Get organized. Once you’ve made your list, use your resources to get organized. Emspace uses a project management tool called Basecamp, which is awesome for keeping track of what needs to be done, when and by whom.
  • Communicate. Now that you’ve made your list and have gotten organized, be sure to keep everyone in the loop. If you need to adjust a timeline on a client or on your team, be sure to let them know right away what your action plan is and what the new timeline will be.

3. Use your time efficiently.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “work smarter, not harder,” but it is sometimes easier said than done. With a busy workload also comes feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your day:

  • Guard your calendar. Treat big tasks just like you would treat an important meeting and block that time out on your calendar – and just as you would in a meeting, refrain from taking calls and emails until that time is up. This way, coworkers will know when you are busy and won’t schedule you over that timeframe.
  • Eliminate distractions. As much as you plan out your day, distractions and interruptions will always occur. Find what works best for you to avoid these distractions for an hour or two at a time. Plug into your favorite Spotify playlist, separate yourself into a quiet working space, or set your phone to do not disturb. Check out this Gmail app that allows you to “pause” your inbox and refresh when you are ready to review your recent messages.
  • Stay positive! Instead of wasting time dreading or complaining about a task, use that time to actually get it done. Mostly likely, this task won’t take as much time as you think it will. Also, your positivity will be contagious throughout the office.



4. Know when to ask for help. Really…

…because we’re all in this together! Everyone is busy, but we’re all here to support our clients. In an office of only 10, it sometimes comes to “all hands on deck” when a deadline is approaching.

Take an hour out of the day for a team brainstorm. This could help you find the answer more quickly and also allow you more time to focus on other aspects of the project. Or just ask one person if they have time for a quick pow-wow at their desk. Most likely, they can break away from their current task or will get back to you when they are available. Go ahead and reach out, you’ll never know until you ask.



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