How to Turn Work Overwhelm into Organisation

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Even the best of us can experience the dreaded ‘o’ word. No, not overworking, that is the subject of another post. Instead, it’s the overwhelm word; can you relate? I bet you can.

It’s a common experience that seems to be more prevalent today than ever before.

When I started Lucy Walker Recruitment  here in Leeds 25 years ago, I had a phone, a desk, the yellow pages, few distractions (no social media then) and a big dream.

Fast forward to today: LWR  is a thriving company with two offices in Leeds and Manchester a growing team and the ability to serve our clients with both temporary and permanent staff. We are even approaching the 100,000 mark when it comes to placed candidates.

I am also a mother of three active Teenage children…. yes, occasionally I feel overwhelmed too!

That overwhelmed feeling can strike at any time no matter how organised you think you are. Perhaps your department has landed a huge new client, or it’s holiday time, and three of your key managers are all on their annual trip to their favourite holiday destination.

It happens and will continue to do so. Therefore, it is useful to have strategies in place to help you cope. Here are a number that our clients shared with us, and we have tested too; they definitely work.



1. Make A List

There is nothing like the feeling of getting everything out of your head and onto paper. There is a lot of scientific evidence that it works too.

Our brains are processing and thinking machines they are not designed to store endless tasks and ideas; who hasn’t felt the relief of writing a list?

The interesting thing here is that the process of writing a list works better when you write everything down; even if it’s personal. Our brains don’t store things in compartments. If you are concerned about that fact that your insurance is up for renewal and you got ‘stung’ with a big premium last time that is going to nibble away at you as much as any work issue will.

I personally take an A4 sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle; one side is LWR and the other personal. I then list out every ‘task’ that is whizzing around in my head and then I move onto number two; prioritise.


2. Prioritise

Stephen Covey, the well-known American educator and businessman, wrote the best selling leadership book called The 7 Habits Of Highly Successful People.

One of the key habits suggests we always start with the end in mind e.g. what is our goal. Here is a great quote of his that truly sums up this key point;



All too often we can be taken off track with the day to day events happening in our office. Instead, it is imperative to always keep the end goal and priority of your department or team in sight and prioritise your activities around that.


3. Avoid Distractions

This might be easier said than done and distractions are terrible time thieves. A study from the University of California revealed that when the distraction occurs, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track.

Imagine you have three or four distractions during a day. This could lead to an hour lost each day and by the end of the week, the best part of a day has disappeared.

Smartphones and email are big culprits and yet easy to remove. Which leads me to something else.


4. Planning



If you know your priorities from an organisational perspective and how that translates to your department or team, this is a great first start. Now it’s about planning this into your daily actions.

The list we talked about earlier was the first start as it will have helped you identify the projects versus tasks that are on your list and the absolute critical tasks that should happen.

You will notice on your list where a task can be delegated/ given to another member of your team. All too often hard working managers think they are the ones that should do it all; you don’t, your well trained and motivated team are keen to help. Delegation is an important skill that all great managers master.

A great planning tip one client shared with me was to make a list of recurring tasks that had to happen every day, week, month or quarter. This is then put into the diary. The relief this can bring in knowing everything has a planned day already organised in the diary is huge.

Important: Make your diary your friend. Though our online world can be distracting an online diary can be your saviour. Multiple occurrences are easy to plan and block out. Make sure you add some flex time too.


5. Look After Yourself

So important I left it till last. All too often conscientious managers take on ‘too’ much and don’t look after themselves.

Though I am not advocating becoming a ‘jobsworth ‘, it is important to look at what your role entails. Agreeing to help on new projects is great for your career development, provided you are super planned in all the other areas of your job function. Otherwise, you will fall behind.

Sometimes it is OK to say No. The truth? Taking on more work than you can manage is bad for you and bad for your employers too.



Why? They will be the ones who end up bearing the cost of your missed deadlines and mistakes that always creep in when we ‘try’ to spin too many plates.

Finally, let’s briefly touch on your health. Classically when the work piles up, people burn the midnight oil, which is OK sporadically; though not when it’s happening every week.

Either something is wrong with the work flow or process or another team member is needed.

Ironically working longer can cap your productivity. Building in breaks and time away from the desk has the counter intuitive effect of enabling us to achieve more.

Healthy food and a walk at lunch time get our blood pumping while clearing our head at the same time.


In Summary

Overwhelm can creep up on the best of us. We can all have busy periods at work that challenge us, though if this is happening consistently  a planning and prioritising review might be exactly what you need.


About Lucy Walker Recruitment

At LWR we have been serving the Leeds and Manchester business community for 25 years. If you want support to recruit staff at all levels of your organisation or are looking to develop your career in a new company, do get in touch with one of our friendly consultants. Call Leeds 0113 367 2880 or Manchester on 0161 661 4421

2017-07-26T09:18:46+00:00 By |Categories: Candidates|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on How to Turn Work Overwhelm into Organisation

About the Author:

Lucy Walker is the Managing Director of Lucy Walker Recruitment , leading North of England commercial recruiter. Lucy has 28 years experience in the sector and leads her experienced team to help companies achieve their growth plans and candidates to further their careers.