How Manage Heavy Workloads

How-To: Guides

How to Manage Heavy Workloads

with Pedro Mateus


Over the years, heavy workloads and responsibilities tend to grow in everyone’s life and dealing with that can be hard sometimes. We feel this increase since transitioning from high school to college, from our Bachelor’s to Master’s programme and even in the inevitable moment of entering the job market.  

Due to this, managing a heavy workload has become a crucial soft skill one must have to not only succeed professionally but also to be able to have a healthy work-life balance.  

We want you to think about a sector typically associated with heavy workloads, multi-tasking and lots of responsibility. If you thought about consultancy, you got it right! For the third edition of the How-to: Guides, promoted by Nova Skills Association, we invited Pedro Mateus – who has been working in the consultancy sector for about seven years – so he could give you some advice on how to deal with this topic. 

Pedro Mateus previously worked at EY (Ernst & Young) and is currently a financial consultant at KPMG. He is passionate about this field, having taken both his Bachelor’s and Masters in Management at Nova School of Business and Economics. He believes that in the business sector everything is changing, new ideas and innovations are always on the rise and the model itself is disruptive, making it so interesting to work on. After eight years in the consultancy sector, Pedro has gathered some helpful tips and tricks that helped him manage a heavy workload.

The guide 

If not managed effectively, a heavy workload can have multiple negative effects on your mental and physical health, leading to burnout, decreases in productivity and can also affect the quality of your work. 

The study by the World Health Organization concluded that working 55 hours per week is killing 398,000 people from stroke and 347,000 from heart disease each year. People who work long hours are at a 35% higher risk of stroke and 17% higher risk of heart disease than those working 35-40 hours per week. 

So, it is crucial to learn how to deal with heavy workloads, manage responsibilities and acquire new skills to help you not resign from all the pressure you may be under. To help you understand how you can have a more effective approach when it comes to heavy workloads, Pedro has given us some steps to follow. 

1. Time Management: organize your weekly workload in a way that suits you 

The first step consists of writing down all the pending and ongoing tasks you have at the end of the day. Then, the next morning, you should look at that pipeline of assignments with bright eyes and understand what you need to do, what may have already been done or what is not necessary to do.  

Secondly, and more importantly, you need to define the priority of those tasks: is this high priority or secondary? 

 And by now you may be asking: “How can I prioritise my tasks when everything feels equally important and urgent?” – Well… there isn’t a secret formula for this, but we can guarantee you that it is also not impossible!  

We suggest that you define 3-5 individual measures on how to quantify your priorities: which one has a tighter deadline? Which one will take me more time to finish? Am I dependent on someone else to finish the task? – This way you will find it easier to begin because now you know where to start working.

2. Learn how to say NO! 

For most of us, it is hard to master the art of saying no, especially in the beginning, when trying to figure out how much work you can handle effectively without getting burned out. To help you find out when is a good time to stop and say no, we compiled some steps you can follow to assess the situation you are in, and determine the best solution for you: 

  1. Measure the request! “Do I have the capability/skills to do it? Or am I going way out of my league?” – Maybe if someone asks you to do something that is out of your scope, the best thing to do is politely reject their solicitation. 
  1.  “If I am not going way out of my league, are the tasks at hand complex to the point that even if I throw a lot of effort, I will not be able to deliver?” – If you think with the work you can put in, given that it is something outside your scope, you cannot do it successfully, then the answer you may be looking for is no. 
  1.  If you think it is an appropriate task for your personal and professional development, you can consider doing it. 
  1. Quantify the impact! Try to know the real impact the acceptance of this task will have on your performance. If it makes you deviate significantly from what you normally do, from what you usually have under your responsibility, or even have a substantial negative impact on your typical job performance, then you reject

When you start to accumulate responsibilities that are not associated with your function and that you are not qualified to do, the outcome will never be a good one. This doesn’t mean that you have to say no to every additional task, you just have to figure out what you can do and what you can handle in order to accept something. Everyone ends up doing something that is out of their scope, but when such demand is coming to you, you need to assess the situation and measure the impact it will have on your performance in general. It is a complicated topic that is not easy to evaluate, but if you follow these steps, you may find it easier to decide whether or not to accept the task at hand. 


Dealing with heavy workloads is an essential skill to have. If not handled properly, it can bring unfortunate consequences for you and others around you. These tips on how to manage a heavy workload effectively are just some recommendations that could help you be more organised and efficient when making decisions.  

We are grateful to Pedro Mateus for his participation in this insightful interview, which provided crucial knowledge about the steps to take to begin to learn how to deal with the workload. 

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