Recruitment is high pressure and overwhelm can threaten the best of us at times. Smart recruiters have strategies in place to deal with the emotional toll the job can take on them when the going gets tough.
When you’re overwhelmed at work, it’s hard to think clearly and perform well. Often, your rising sense of overwhelm will lead to poor decision-making, reduced confidence, and eventually to poor billing numbers, so it’s vital to get it under control, and put methods in place to ensure it doesn’t return the next time the pressure’s on.
Prioritise your tasks.
Sit down with a pen and paper and write down every task you must do, to stop them swirling around your head. This is your ‘long list’.
Then select the three most important things you must get done today, and write them down on a separate piece of paper. Then put the long-list out of view, you can come back to it when you’ve finished your three things.
Choosing just three things sharpens the mind and gives a clear, non-negotiable goal to work towards, and a gratifying, confidence-boosting sense of achievement when you reach it.
Humans are not machines and just cannot function at full throttle all day, every day. (And even machines need regular servicing, the right fuel, and replacement parts to keep going!)
Productivity experts have proved that working long hours and sacrificing your breaks to work is terrible for your productivity and performance.
So step away from the desk at lunchtime (and leave the office) and don’t burn the midnight oil. Your newfound energy and enthusiasm for the hours you are at work just might surprise you.
Know when to say no.
Your billing manager might be piling on the pressure, but you owe it to yourself, to your clients, and to your candidates to draw a line when you know your performance or mental health is starting to suffer.
If you’re like most recruiters you won’t let it show that you’re struggling, so your manager may think you’re handling it all with ease.
Sit down for a meeting and explain that you are becoming too stretched, and any good manager will know to ease off—not only for your benefit but the company’s! Your manager might also have some great tips for organising your time better or dealing with stress.
Look after body and mind.
Exercise, yoga, meditation, or just a quick jog around the block- whatever makes you feel like you can snatch a bit of peace will do a lot to bring balance and perspective back to your working day.
Learn to breathe through overwhelm.
If you find yourself overwhelmed in the middle of a meeting or when you can’t leave the office for a walk, then learning the 4-7-8 breathing technique (in for 4, hold for 7, out for 8) would be valuable.
It is a great technique to force the body back into the ‘rest and digest’ nervous system instead of ‘fight or flight’. You really can do this anywhere, at any time, and it brings the body back to a state of calm remarkably quickly.
Know how to use sleep to boost performance.
You feel like you’re doing the right thing by working late, but by the time you get home, eat, and wind down in front of the television, it’s 11 pm.
That means you know you won’t get 8 hours sleep- and that’s by if some miracle you don’t lie awake for hours thinking about all the things you need to do!
When you’re sleep deprived, your capacity to remember information plummets, and your stress levels skyrockets, so you’re genuinely harming your work performance by skimping on sleep.
If you do need to work late, have a nap in the break room if you can to restore your energy levels, and try to sleep longer the next night or on the weekend to reduce your ‘sleep debt’.
Do a productivity audit on your working week
If you don’t put methods in place to prevent overwhelm now, it will inevitably return then next time the pressure’s on. Being organised and consistent are your greatest weapons against overwhelm getting its hooks in in the first place and doing an audit of your working week is a great place to start.
Begin by planning your week, and assign projected times each task will take. Then religiously time-track everything you do for a week, noting where you spend more time than you expect, what kinds of tasks you forgot to schedule, and whether you’re setting yourself realistic goals in the first place.
All of a sudden, you’ll probably understand why you never get to the end of your to-do list- it’s because you were setting yourself up to fail by expecting the impossible! What a relief to know this. You can feel the overwhelm starting to diminish already.
Now it’s time to plan better.
1. Leave some time free in the schedule for the unpredictable tasks
2. Schedule high cognitive tasks like pitching for the times that you have the most energy and concentration.
3. Attack emails and database work in blocks of time (preferably when your mental energy is waning),
4. Have a frank discussion with yourself about those tasks that take longer than they should. (Is there a more effective way of doing them?)
5. Remove the dead weight in your schedule. You may need to say ‘no’ more to achieve this.
So, which of these have you already mastered, and which will you start on today? Knowing how to deal with overwhelm is part of every successful recruiter’s skillset.
Until next time,