How to deal with work overload
Learning how to deal with work overload is a crucial skill.

I’m pretty sure you know this situation too well: Literally 8 in 10 women I talk to say that they are struggling with stress management and how to deal with work overload.

I’m very familiar with the feeling of being completely overwhelmed myself, especially from my previous job where I was managing a team in three, overlapping time zones. (Read more about me here.)

What has helped me tremendously is a simple but effective strategy I have put together for myself. Every time I felt absolutely overwhelmed and couldn’t decide what to do first, I would act according to those 5 steps.


Stress management: how to deal with work overload.


  1. Breathe!

    This is your number one thing to do. Don’t underestimate your body. If you’re stressed, your breath is gonna do all kinds of funny things. Be aware. Sit up straight and breathe. Deep. Inhale, exhale. Is the pile getting smaller yet? …if you are not sure what exactly stress is and what it does to our body, I can recommend the “stress explained” section of this website.


  1. Step away!

    If breathing only doesn’t do the trick, leave the place where you are at this moment. Just step away. Walk around a bit, stare out the window. It might put things in perspective already.


  1. Take a break!

    Well, sometimes you just gotta admit that the pile will only keep growing, despite all the breathing and walking. Guess what –> Your mind is probably experiencing an overload. Your synapses are having a party up there. Time for a break. If you don’t take that break right there, right then, you just won’t get any sh* done for the rest of the day.


  1. Set priorities!

    Well, in a perfect world you would set priorities in the very beginning and adjust them with every further incoming task. I said “perfect world”… Now that you had your break, just note down the tasks from the pile and give them priorities. If you have lots of tasks, just pick the three most important ones and leave the rest in a pool for later.


  1. Ask for help!

    This is the hardest part for most people. But you better learn when’s the right point in time to get some help. It has nothing to do with failure. Just cut that out. I’ve put that down as the last point, because it’s always nice to solve things by yourself. But hey! If you can’t – for whatever reason – there is no shame whatsoever in asking for help! The best team dynamic is one where people jump in for each other when needed. Embrace it!


This strategy has always been working pretty well for myself and for all the tasks that are already on my to-do list. How to deal with work overload is one thing. But how amazing would it be if less items would be added to your list in the first place? Well, there is one more skill to master that would help you oodles:


  1. Learn to say “no”.

    I know this can be a pretty tough one, especially for us women. Most of us are not used to saying no. It’s vital though to understand which tasks you really have to do because it’s your job and you’re being paid for this, and which tasks are just being dumped onto your shoulders because you just never say no. I will cover this topic soon in a separate, dedicated blog post because it’s one of the most important skills to acquire.


Not only does this strategy work well in a corporate environment. I’m now using it while building my own business but also managing daily life tasks, emotions and decision.

If you like, write down those 5 (or 6) steps and try it out next time you are running into a situation where you are feeling so overwhelmed that you can’t think straight.

And if you have a few minutes left, leave me a comment and tell me how helpful you’re finding it in learning how to deal with work overload.