Ahh, the dreaded crunch. If you work in a high-pressure industry, then you are undoubtedly familiar with this concept. For the uninitiated, allow me to enlighten you...
'Crunch Work' is defined as working additional hours (whether paid or unpaid) in order to meet a looming deadline. In these situations, management expects employees to render upwards of 50-80 hours of work per week. Prevalent in the software sector, crunch has achieved widespread infamy in recent years due to several reports about companies that expected their workers to undergo crunch during (and after) the pandemic.
So, what does crunch have to do with being a virtual assistant? Well, when was the last time your client needed you to handle an urgent task with a tight deadline?
Okay, now that we know what it is, let's talk about how to deal with crunch. Take note that these tips are for the workers. We'll have a separate blog post that has tips for management.
1. Organize Your Workload
Once crunch hits, you'll likely feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks. That's normal, but don't let yourself be discouraged by how much you need to get done. Instead, begin arranging your work into manageable chunks. This will make the workload seem lighter.
Bonus Tip: When you organize your workload, make sure to set your own internal deadline for each chunk. Do your best to hit those deadlines, so you have enough time to revise your output if necessary.
2. Work Smart
These days, there is an abundance of digital tools that can make work easier. This includes automation programs, project management platforms, deep learning algorithms, etc. If you think one or more of your tasks can be automated or streamlined, then that is likely the case. Don't hesitate to think outside the box and use whatever you have at your disposal to make the work easier.
Bonus Tip: If you are unfamiliar with how a particular tool or program is used, try looking for short tutorials on Youtube.
3. Be Laser-Focused
Distractions are the enemy of efficiency, and if you are experiencing crunch, then you can afford ZERO distractions. Yes, we checked and that is the exact number of distractions you can have during crunch. So, how can you be laser-focused when you're already exhausted and there's still so much work to be done? That all depends on what works for you. If listening to ambient music helps, do that. If rewarding yourself for completing task chunks keeps your eyes on the prize, do that. Basically, work with your mind, not against it.
Bonus Tip: A do-not-disturb sign can ward off unwanted distractions. I also suggest disconnecting from social media when you're working. Especially TikTok.
4. Finish Your S***
I hate to be blunt, but the best way to deal with crunch is to simply do the work and finish it. Bite down on your mouthpiece and get your hands dirty. I know it's easier said than done, but this is the only way this crunch period will actually end—at least, on the worker side of things.
Bonus Tip: When in dire need of motivation, look inwards. Your intrinsic driving force could be the key to getting through these tough times. And remember, this too shall pass.
Clearly, crunch periods are some of the most challenging and taxing times in any professional's career. And the sad truth of the matter is that while it shouldn't be the norm, it far too often is. Many companies expect their team members to readily embrace crunch as an aspect of their work culture. But that is simply not feasible in the long-term. Prolonged crunch often leads to high attrition—workers who have had enough just walk away from the job entirely—leading to even more crunch for those left behind. This vicious cycle must end, and it can only be addressed through empathetic and proactive leadership.
I really hope this blog post left you with some food for thought. It's not every day we get to reflect on the darker side of work. If your company is experiencing crunch more than you'd like, maybe it's time you sought the help of TopVA. Let our team lighten the load, so you can give your employees some much-needed respite. Visit https://www.topva.co/ to learn more.