Lighten the Workload

Heavy tasks can create heavy feelings. When you’re still toiling away at a document at 6 PM on Thursday, even though you originally thought you could ship it by end of day on Monday, when you conceived of it, the weight of that unfinished business becomes palpable.

You know how, in movies, when the heroine sits at the bar after a bad breakup, ordering her third whiskey, there’s always a friend who tells her, “Ah, lighten up. It’s not so bad. Tomorrow’s a new day!“? Well, work ain’t like that.

When we’re cooperating with people to get something done, we rarely feel the gravity of our feat to begin with. We’re focused on enabling the folks around us. It is when we’re alone that we have time to feel self-conscious, to doubt our abilities, and to think: “Whew. I’m not sure I can do this.”

In those moments, you may not have a friend sliding over to remind you the sun will rise again tomorrow, but you still have the ability to lighten up — your workload, that is. And once you do that, your mood will automatically follow.

The next time you’re moving mountains, try this: For every minor milestone you achieve, ideally some measure of progress you can update every hour, take a break from your big task and complete a small one. Attach a hook to the wall. Fold ten pieces of laundry. Clear out the dishwasher. Meditate for ten minutes. Call your dad.

Whether it’s a personal to-do or a tiny item from your big list, lightening your workload with small, interspersed tasks will take your mind off the daunting peak ahead of you. It will likely get you to move, reset your brain, and boost your morale. It’s slowing down to speed up.

Perhaps one day, we’ll all have an always-on, encouraging friend right in our home, but until then, remember that making a small bowl of soup can still help with carrying away big stones. Lighten the workload, and feel your mind shake its wings.