What is work overload?
Various dictionaries and articles have numerous definitions on what work overload is. Just a quick Google search is enough to fill out hundreds of books about ‘work overload’. A true information overload it is!
While defining work overload is a relatively simple job, what carries home the message more effectively is this funny quote – “No.. you absolutely don’t need to rush with this work. Take all the time you need. You can do it tonight or finish it over the weekend which starts tomorrow.”
Work overload is a common problem. It has only become more in the post pandemic period that is dominated by work-from-home culture.
Why does it happen?
There are a million reasons why work overload can occur. Here, we will only talk about the major factors that cause overload –
- Time management problemNo matter how important or busy you are, everybody gets only 24 hours in one day – not a second more, not a second less. When priorities are not sorted and tasks are cluttered over each other, the person handling the tasks can feel overwhelmed. By managing time better and organising tasks, overloading can be avoided – but priority management is a skill that is rarely mastered.
- Too many tasksEvery person works at their own pace. No two people can work alike. Increasing the workload disproportionate to the capacity of the personnel can lead to loss of efficiency and a sense of overloading. On the other hand, accepting work and committing to impossible timelines despite being well aware of your capacities can lead to a total work burnout.
Never burden yourself or a person so much so that he/she gets up from their desk and says, “Done at last. I wonder how old my kids are?”
- Short staffingShort staffing is a major cause for work overload. 100 tasks, divided by 50 people is a reasonable ask. Even if you remove a few personnel, it is still manageable. But what if you have only 10 people to perform 100 tasks? A big headache. Disproportionately large schedules and tasks to work through causes work overload.
- Lack of processLack of process leads to lack of proper assigning of tasks. This results in more tasks for some, while the others lounge off. This is a dangerous trend as it can affect the work atmosphere and create a bad work culture.
How does it affect the performance?
Work overload is never a healthy sign. A legal department or law firm suffering from over worked personnel will rarely be functioning at maximum efficiency. Fatigued personnel often create human errors. Over working also affects the mental health of the workers as they fail to cope with the expectations placed on them.
Technology has unlocked new avenues of work culture. It gives unprecedented access to data allowing law firms and legal departments to work from anywhere, at any time, and on any device. But what the increasing availability of technology has also done is create endless work that has begun to blur the lines of work-life balance.
Working long hours to stay on top of endless to-do lists makes it difficult to achieve a balance between professional and personal life. Stress, making mistakes and missing deadlines are common signs that you are being overworked.
Tips to avoid work overload
Once you start evaluating the causes of work overload, you can clearly identify what needs to change.
- Saying ‘No’There is no harm or shame in turning down a project or a case. By accepting and not doing a justifiable job, you risk causing more damage. By turning down some cases, you can dedicate your time better to the cases you are already busy with and spend less time overworking yourself. By saying ‘No’ when needed, you will be able to avoid work overload and manage your time better.
- Time managementAchieving balance between work and life will allow you to work at your maximum potential. Take control of your time by setting up schedules and priorities. Plan the days ahead – be sure to allocate plenty of time for yourself. Develop prioritising habits that will help you to manage tasks better. On a scale of one to ten, with 1 being the least important and 10 being the most important task at hand, not every task will score a 10, will it? Focus more on the important tasks and distribute the less important to others or assign it to yourself when you are relatively free. By prioritising tasks, you can work more efficiently and get more things done.
- Setting realistic target & goalsSetting realistic and achievable targets and goals takes away the burden of work overload caused in pursuit of chasing unattainable objectives. It will help you plan out the hours more efficiently. Regular progress reports are a great way to measure the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
- Delegate workNot everything has to be done by you. You can delegate tasks to either another person or to an AI based automation system. This helps you focus on the more important tasks and better manage your time.
- Reduce dependencyCreate a process – a system. This reduces dependency and establishes a fail-proof work path in your law firm or legal department. When dependency is low, tasks get completed faster. A system reduces bottlenecks in workflow and ensures tasks do not pile up.
- Collaborate (team work)By working together, things and tasks can be completed faster. It is not wrong to seek help or offer help when others require it. A team gets a lot more accomplished than a single person.
Have a contingency plan (backup)
Failure is part of life. But by being prepared for the worst, you can actually achieve success faster. Have backup and alternate plans ready. This will prevent you from digging the same hole deeper and deeper. Having alternative plans will save you work, time and effort.
- Stress Relieving ActivitiesFind what works for you as a stress buster and indulge in it. By pursuing stress relief activities such as Yoga, meditation, walk, jog, etc, you can improve your mental as well as physical health. This allows you to focus better at work and prevents work pileup.
- Adopt technologyTechnology can be a boon if properly used. It is the single most important thing that can make a difference in your law firm or legal department. By automating tasks, you save valuable time, and remove the possibility of errors happening. With technology, you can create a system that is highly efficient and productive.
Manage My Lawsuits
Manage My Lawsuits software can single handedly transform the way your law firm or legal department functions. By introducing automation, it takes away the repetitive tasks and automates them. Case updates tracking, data storage and security, reminders and alerts, hearing date tracking, case diary entries, planning etc are all fully automated. This makes the system more efficient and ensures that personnel are not overworked. A happy office gets more work done than a stressed out, overworked firm.
Get a Free Demo of Manage My Lawsuits - A Powerful Litigation Management Software
We know this software is one of the best legal case management software but seeing is believing. Please submit the following form and we will call you back.