Three Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Workload

by | Feb 28, 2021

It’s Monday morning, and before you bear down on another week, take five minutes and ask yourself the questions about your workload. I’ve talked to CEOs who have worked 100 hours a week for decades without an issue, and part-time employees headed towards stress leave.

Though the connection between workload and burnout is undeniable, it’s not as simple as saying that a high workload leads to burnout. Burnout costs the US economy over $300 billion annually. It’s a big deal, both socially and economically, and something to avoid. Your answers to these questions can be the gateway to preventing burnout. 

  1. How often do you not have time to complete all your work tasks?

 Having lots of work to do doesn’t necessarily lead to burnout. But never finishing the work you have can be a leading warning sign. It’s not so much the amount of work you do, but the feeling of never getting to the bottom of the pile, ever, can trigger burnout. As a team leader, the work it’s never done. If I choose to work 100 hours a week, I still would never come to the end of the work. Not only for the sake of my family but my mental health, I determine the amount of work I can sustainably do in a day. When things have to get done, including writing a blog on Sunday night, it gets done. But it’s always a conscious decision. However, not everyone has the luxury of having the final say over their workload. That’s where clear lines of communication with your supervisor are critical. Talk to them if you are struggling to ever get to the bottom of your pile. If this doesn’t help, remember that 60% of employees would take a pay cut to work somewhere that cared more about their wellbeing. 

2 – Do you track your work pace?

How well do you know how you work? When during the day are you most productive? There’s a good chance you’re not the most productive between 9 am and 5 pm. Yes, of course, your company probably had hours of operation, but you might be hard-pressed to find anyone, including the boss, who can explain why those hours were down or why they’re essential. Thankfully, with work-at-home orders in place across much of the known universe, many of these business norms have been suspended, and you may have experienced freedom in your schedule that has been both liberating and insightful. Use this experience to experiment with your working schedule to find out when and where you’re the most effective and productive. 

3 – What is asked of you at this moment?

Depending on what you do, the answer may come quickly. If you work construction, you’d probably say the demand is physical. If you’re an accountant, cognitive. If you’re a therapist, emotional. However, there will be times when, regardless of your occupation, you are asked of all three. Being conscious of what tank is draining is critical to know which tank needs refilling. 

Ask these questions today and listen to the answer. Your answers will help you be sustainable at work in the long run.