95% of workers admit to thinking about their work in the evening when they are at home, according to a study conducted in 2019 by Ifop-Mooncard on professional mental load. 77% feel they have too many tasks to manage at the same time, including managing emails, too frequent meetings (63%), reporting obligations (59%), administrative tasks and managing expense reports (41%). 74% of workers believe they receive too many emails.

Unfortunately, this hyper-solicitation and multiplication of tasks to manage generates significant stress, even after work. This mental load often affects private and family life.

So, what can we do about the mental load at work? How to fight it? Here are some answers.

What is the mental load at work?

Every day, when you finish work, you feel tired. Even with your family, you continue to think about all the tasks that are in progress and that await you the next day. At night, you even dream about your job. Too much pressure, too many responsibilities, too many tasks and no down time... You feel worn out. 

This persistent flow of stimuli, notifications, calls, emails and files to finish can take a toll on employees' mental health and lead to mental overload (also called cognitive overload). After a day like that, it's hard to distance yourself from your work, and perhaps even harder when you work where you live. Besides, with technology, reading emails at night on the couch has never been so easy, just like consulting the files in progress. As a result, there is no longer a real break between the private and professional spheres.

If not relieved, this cognitive overload can greatly reduce well-being and performance at work, and even cause burnout.

Do I suffer from mental overload at work?

To relieve this mental overload before it gets worse, it is important to spot these signs as soon as possible: 

Loss of performance 

When you have too many tasks at the same time, it is difficult to manage everything and even remember everything. Logically, this pressure has an impact on performance and organisation.

Multiplication of errors 

By juggling various responsibilities and tasks, you end up making mistakes that you would not normally make. If you notice that you are making more mistakes, don't wait any longer to act.

Problem remembering

One of the signs of cognitive overload can be the frequent forgetting of certain tasks, deadlines, projects, etc.


One of the consequences of mental overload is poor emotional management. As a result, you are more easily irritable and in a bad mood with your colleagues, your hierarchy and even your clients. And when one has the impression that this overload of work is not recognised, a feeling of injustice can emerge.  

How to avoid mental workload? Our 10 tips to free yourself from it

Deadlines are too tight, pressure is too heavy, responsibilities are high, stress is constant... Before you crack, you must act as quickly as possible to reduce the mental load at work.

1.    Recognise that you are suffering from mental load

Many employees who are overloaded prefer to ignore all these signs, even though they are not mistaken. Unfortunately, if the pace does not slow down, the risk is to end up cracking and suffering a burnout. It is necessary to recognise the urgency of the situation and to act. 

2.    Use adapted tools

Today, with the multiplicity of tools and computer software, it is easier to get organised and not forget anything. To lighten the mental load, consider using tools like Trello to create to-do lists.

3.    List all the tasks 

On the same principle, whether it is via a software, on Excel, post-its, Google Keep or Teams, list the tasks to do so you don’t forget anything, better prioritise (and notably let go of non-essential tasks) and keep a global vision on all the tasks to be accomplished. 

4.    Delegate

You are aware that you can't and sometimes don't know how to do everything. And your collaborators can sometimes do certain tasks more quickly and efficiently than you. Don't hesitate to ask for help when you feel the need. Trust your team and delegate some tasks if you feel you are overloaded.  

5.    Set boundaries 

To achieve a better work/life balance, you need to set clear boundaries, both physical (e.g., create a dedicated work space at home, or not allow yourself to work once you're out of the office) and time-based (e.g., don't work outside of your schedule, evenings, weekends and vacations). 

6.    Talking about it

Recognise your limitations and seek help. Instead of building up frustration and pressure, it is necessary to talk to your colleagues and especially to your manager. Not only will this allow you to look for a solution together, but it will also allow you to release the pressure and the weight of the mental load. You will feel lighter knowing that all your efforts are not invisible, but well and truly recognised by the team and the hierarchy. 

For this discussion to be fruitful, give specific examples, quantified if possible (the number of unread emails in the queue, the time needed to complete a task, etc.). 

7.    Take real breaks

To remain effective over time and avoid overheating, you need to take real breaks. Take time for lunch and take breaks during the day. Reading, chatting with a colleague or a friend, or even going outside for 10 minutes to get some fresh air, will help reduce accumulated tension.

In addition, for these breaks to be truly beneficial, they must be sufficiently different from the tasks performed. For example, if you work alone in front of a computer all day long, you should avoid screens, move around, get some fresh air or talk to your colleagues. 

8.    Limit interruptions 

Open space noise, calls from colleagues and clients, emails and incessant notifications are often sources of frustration for employees. Not only can all these distractions hinder productivity and impact concentration, but they can also cause additional stress. 

To regain control and focus, you can, for example, deactivate notifications or set aside a time in your calendar to check your emails. If necessary, inform your colleagues so that they are aware of this and do not interrupt you.

9.    One thing at a time

Many employees manage several tasks at the same time. However, to relieve your mental load, it is better to do one task after another rather than simultaneously. You will be more efficient and less stressed. In addition, research conducted by Stanford University has shown that doing several things at once is less productive than doing one thing at a time.

10.    Adapt your work environment 

At the office or at your home office, even the little things matter. On your desk or in the room where you work, add some decorative elements, such as pictures of your friends or a green plant. Several studies have shown the positive effects of plants on office productivity. In short, to contribute to your well-being and feel good again, you must know how to create a pleasant and soothing work environment.