Q: I’m struggling to keep up with my workload and it’s affecting what my boss thinks of me. It’s also affecting the way I work with my team and I’m now finding I can’t switch off from work properly. What can I do?
A: In a working environment in which technology and customer expectations are increasing the pressure to deliver, the challenge of how to prioritise work and succeed is all important. Indeed, a recent poll by the Chartered Management Institute suggested that eight in 10 people struggle to juggle their tasks and, like you, worry that the extent of challenges they face undermines performance.
There are several ways that you can address this problem. It may not be easy in the social care environment, but you should find time to take a step back from daily activities and ask yourself some questions. Are you, for example, absolutely clear on the role you play in the organisation? Do you and your colleagues agree about what you are expected to deliver? The answers will help you identify activities that you should be doing as well as those you might stop.
You should also think about what proportion of your work can be shared among colleagues to help you manage your workload – and help them to develop. Naturally, many aspects will still require your attention and these will need to be managed well if you are to retain your boss’s confidence.
Try spending a few minutes at the start of the day ranking your tasks in order of importance. Focus on deadlines not the ease of task as the driver to act, as meeting targets is one way to ensure your boss views your contributions in a positive light. But be pragmatic about what can be achieved in a day – by over-promising, you run the risk of raising unrealistic expectations.
Clearly you are passionate about your role, but to avoid burnout and frustration you need to force yourself to relax. During the day, take regular breaks as this can help refocus your attention, and talk problems through with colleagues. Also, bear in mind that overwork is counterproductive failing to get the balance right between work and home life can create problems for you and resentment among friends and family members competing for your time.
Jo Causon is director of marketing at the Chartered Management Institute. For more information on juggling your priorities, go to www.managers.org.uk/howdoyou
Readers’ views: Closer examination of your ‘to do’ list will probably reveal that half of the things on it are not actually your responsibility. I suggest you hand the offending tasks back to their rightful owner(s) and tell them to get on with their work and leave you to get on with yours!
Name and address withheld
21 February question
Q: I have just applied for an internal post and been offered an interview. However, I have clashed with one of the two managers conducting the interviews in the past and am worried his involvement could hinder my chances. Is it possible to insist a member of HR is present too to ensure I get a fair go? We will answer this in the 21 February issue of Community Care. We want to publish your advice too: please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 11 February.
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