If I asked you to describe your workload in one word, what would it be? Is it light, manageable, heavy, or overwhelming?
If it is too light, work loses the sense of challenge that ignites your motivation and gives you a sense of purpose. You may be wondering why you are showing up at your desk each day. If it’s too heavy, you could experience work-related stress and anxiety. There are not enough hours to get the work done, never mind finding space for creativity, new ideas and self-care.
Regular reviews are one of the most effective tools for workload management. If you are a manager, finding the goldilocks setting for task distribution is one of the best ways you can support your people. We all know that even the tidiest to-do list or project plan can morph into something almost unrecognisable as the days and weeks pass. New requests come in, things evolve and all of a sudden your work no longer seems to be in your control. This is why workload reviews are so essential.
It begins with a reflection on each task and ends with a decision about what the next step will be. This process allows you to identify and refocus on the activities that will add the most value, in a way that supports both the job to be done and your well-being. It builds confidence at work and reduces the risk of unplanned overtime in the working week.
So how do you complete a workload review? You can keep it simple with these four steps.
Step 1 – Write it down
List everything you have committed to doing in the period ahead. When everything is down on paper, take a look at the tasks and mark their priority and the due date. If you are a manager and are completing a workload review with a member of your team, this is a great opportunity to identify any gaps in expectations.
Step 2 – Acknowledge progress
For each item, represent how much progress you have made and how much work is left to do. This allows you to review your work from its current position and make better decisions.
Step 3 – Delete, Delegate, Defer or Do
When you have listed everything it is time to reflect and make a decision on what to do. The 4Ds of time management (Do, Defer, Delegate and Delete), is a popular way to do this.
I recommend looking at delete first, although it is traditionally listed last. Ask yourself whether anything can be taken off the list straight away. If you are in a leadership position, this is even more important. Every piece of work you do is likely to be linked to tasks assigned to others across the organisation. If you decide something is no longer necessary, you will positively impact someone else’s workday as well. This is why we always look to delete first.
From there you can consider what remaining tasks can be delegated, (to another person or through automation), what can be deferred, and what definitely must be done.
Step 4 – Take action
Workload reviews are only effective if you act on them. Set aside time to plan the delegation of tasks you have identified. Put items to do in your calendar at the time you intend to work on them. Create a reminder for the items you have deferred.
Finally, schedule your next workload review.
Building this practice into your way of working, and that of your team can transform the workday. You will have a better workday, knowing that the work you are doing has a purpose and is helping to move the business forward. You will work less unplanned overtime and will have more space within your working hours to look after yourself – and your colleagues.
Stay Well and Have A Better Workday