How To Switch Gears When Feeling Overwhelmed

Have you ever gotten stuck or distracted during a work assignment? Or have you been given too many projects at once and can’t effectively manage your time?

In the face of many tasks to complete, it can be easy sit at your desk and dread the work that lies ahead. We’ve all done it before. We have a million things to do, and instead, we stare at our computer screens or phones and think to ourselves, “How am I going to start all of this? Where do I begin?” Distraction is at the root of most of our organizational problems today. In fact, research shows that workers on average devote a whopping 11 minutes on a task before being distracted. We typically look down at our phones, or check the latest of our 1000 emails or embark on long conversations with our colleagues.

So, the important question remains: In times of added stress and overloaded work, how can we effectively switch gears to knock out tasks?


I know it may sound menial, but a great tip is to get a pen and paper and prioritize the week ahead. From a personal example, the past few weeks for me ran together with many projects and meeting requests that popped up left and right. I was often distracted and unorganized at times.  So, instead of trying to knock out multiple tasks with no direction, I made a priority list for this week of what was most needed to get done. I also invited my boss to this “writing display” and we discussed and organized the work ahead.

As a result, I’m more equipped to effectively switch gears in between tasks because I have everything laid out for me. Also, by doing so, I’m making a point to not start any new project or task that pops up during the week, and instead, adding it to my priority list for the following week. Starting your week the same way with a task list will help you avoid the distraction periods and guide you along from task to task to improve productivity.

Me, Myself and I

It’s important to take moments of your day to separate yourself from colleagues and other distractions to focus on you and your work. It can be easy, when you have a lot on your plate, to drop the pressures of work and entertain an enjoyable discussion with your colleague. Although those chats are fun and can lead to better teamwork and communication, it is okay on busy weeks to tell your colleagues that you don’t have the time to talk or that you may need to lessen the times of mandatory meetings with them. In fact, in America alone, over $37B is lost in unnecessary meetings every year, which makes sense if these sporadic conversations cause you to miss deadlines.

With the easiness of communication tools today, we can still chat and teleconference with our colleagues efficiently and don’t have to miss a beat with our work.

The stressfulness and pressures at work can seem to be over-bearing at times. Organize your day, by downloading mobile calendar and communication applications that allow you to prioritize your day and not waste time.

About Luke M.

Luke focuses on all things content creation and writing for PGi. He authors in-depth guides and product updates to teach users and readers about productivity and collaboration. In his spare time, Luke brags about being from North Carolina and loves referring to himself in third person.