Continuing our long-running series on work stress and its real sources, today we look at a very common problem. And by the way, this problem is often combined with one of the other work stress problems, so pay attention. Struggle.

Are you just over-whelmed? There is just too much to do, and no one to help? Do you feel you are personally well organised, or are you always battling to find information, finish tasks in a timely fashion, focus on a task or generally achieve. You and………well most people who work at least some of the time.

Good news. It is true that the workplace is generally getting more demanding, and that people in most roles are getting ever greater workloads placed on them. But, the basic skills of organisation that lead to productivity are easy to learn, reasonably easy to implement and accessible to all.

This one just needs some skills and some thought. Do you plan your own work week? If yes, do you do both a weekly and a daily plan? If you do, how closely do you find yourself sticking to it? Do you set tasks and allocate a time to do them? Do you stick to it? How good are you at managing interruptions? Saying no to meetings? Managing emails? And, (this one can be painful for some), how much work time do you spend gossiping?

Keep a time diary for at least a week. Every hour / half hour write down what you are doing, how long it took, how long you think it should have taken, and how many interruptions there were. Then read up on some productivity and time management skills, learn how to focus and get it done.

Now, the UK in particular has shockingly low productivity, because poor personal productivity habits are common in the workplace. Therefore, if you are an average worker, you should see significant and immediate improvements from simply implementing some of this.

However. Once you have, or if you already have stellar habits in this area and are still struggling. Then, and only then, should you start looking at external demand and negotiating. Is your work load just too high and the expectations on your unreasonable? If it is, good news. You have a time diary to support you, and you can also (if appropriate) talk your leadership what you have already done to help yourself and drive up your own productivity. That is a very positive message, and very good evidence.

This article provides just a very quick overview of routes and options. Taking the time to investigate both productivity methods and negotiation in-depth will yield big rewards, and I urge you to do so. The point of this article is just to make you aware that there are tools to help you handle this very prevalent and very difficult problem. Being in chaos and not on top of things is in and of itself stressful. If you are in control, you know exactly what you are doing, what you aren’t and why, you will feel so much less stressed.

Is this one source of your work stress? What have you done about it? What helped? How did you feel afterwards? Leave a comment below and tell me.