It can sometimes feel as though there is a never ending to-do list so it’s really important that we manage our workloads effectively in order to avoid burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet demands.
Burnout can be particularly prevalent during difficult times, when there are lots of other things to think about and contend with. In order to avoid this and to maintain our wellbeing, it’s really important that we look after ourselves and use different techniques to manage our workloads.
It may seem obvious, but time management really is key to managing our workloads effectively. Having conscious control of time spent on specific activities can increase efficiency, productivity and effectiveness.
Most courses are full time, so one way of thinking about time could be to treat your course like a full time job. Keep your evenings and weekends free to relax and do things that are for you, and spend 9am-5pm Monday to Friday on your studies. This might not be possible for everyone, but having boundaries around your time can mean that the time that you do spend on your workload is more valuable.
If you have a long to-do list and a heavy workload, it’s helpful to prioritise the tasks that are most urgent first. You could also think about which tasks are important, and if you don’t have enough time for everything - which tasks aren’t essential and don’t have to be completed.
You could also prioritise your most important work during your most productive hours. This will mean that this work will be of the highest possible quality, which will help you to feel good and harbour a sense of accomplishment. Setting realistic expectations for yourself each day with the tasks that need to be completed, will also support you in managing your workload.
This goal and activity planner can help you to prioritise your tasks.
Being kind to yourself and practising healthy self-talk will help you to feel calmer and more in control. If you aren’t getting as much done as you would like, instead of punishing yourself you could tell yourself “I would prefer to be able to get more done in a day, but I’m going to accept what I’m realistically able to do.”
There will always be more to do than there is time to do it and accepting this and practicing kindness towards yourself can help you to feel better about your workload. This will avoid feelings of stress and becoming burnt-out.
Also, celebrate the small steps that you make each day that actually go a long way in achieving your goals. If you’ve had a productive day and done lots of work, pat yourself on the back and feel proud! Remember though, not every day will be productive, and this is okay too.
You could use this Gratitude Journal to encourage positive self-talk and kindness towards yourself.
Even when you feel as though you don’t have much free time, it’s important to incorporate wellbeing activities into each day. By taking the time to look after yourself, you will have more energy and focus when you do sit down to study.
You can’t pour from an empty cup, so take the time to take care of yourself.
There are various ways that you can seek support if you're struggling with your workload. Speaking to your Academic Advisor is a good place to start as they will be able to help you help you prioritise tasks and advise you on how to manage your time.
You could access resources on My Learning Essentials around study strategies to help you work in the most effective way you can.
If you are finding that concerns around your workload are becoming overwhelming and you're experiencing high stress levels as a result, you may want to seek further support for example through the University’s Counselling Service and by speaking to your GP.