Virtually all human activity takes place out of conscious awareness. Despite this, when looking to reduce their workloads most people look to trim their to-do lists – the tasks we are conscious of. And yet, what if that were only one source of overwhelm?

What our to-do lists fail to include is what I call our Invisible Workload. This is the collection of mental and emotional tasks that consume a significant amount of our time, energy and attention mostly out of conscious awareness. The invisible workload primarily arises from:

  • The thought patterns that interrupt and distract you;
  • The people, objects and environments you interact with;
  • The countless microtasks these generate; plus
  • The tiredness created by the constant stream of tasks.

Because it has so many possible components it can be complex to combat so I would suggest starting with two “simple” steps that will likely open further doors:

  • The first step is becoming aware in each moment of what is going on in your mind and how you are responding to whatever is going on in the physical world;
  • Secondly, ask yourself:
    • What is giving me energy?
    • What is sucking energy from me?

The bottom line is that awareness is power, power to change whatever no longer serves you.

For more thoughts on managing your invisible workload, this may be of help: Managing Your Invisible Workload: A Short Guide

Questions in the Image:

  • What am I doing that I do not know I am doing?
  • What is giving me energy?
  • What is sucking energy from me?

Want to Read More Around This Topic?

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (link to This book delves into the two systems of thinking that drive our thoughts and actions. System 1 is fast and intuitive, while System 2 is slow and deliberate. Kahneman, a Nobel laureate, explains how understanding these systems can help us make better decisions and be more mindful of our actions.

Nurturing Curiosity – Daily Practice: This is part of the Nurturing Curiosity series of tools, insights and questions designed to help nurture curiosity as part of our daily practice. In point of fact, every interaction we have is an opportunity to question what we are observing and how we and others are seeing the world. Also remember that questions come in many forms throughout our day –the rattling of a train and the incessant conversation waffling through the carriage brings with it a twinge of annoyance as the voices break through into my thoughts, so I wonder What is so precious about my thinking? What doors might others be holding open for me with their words? Where might they lead?

About Tom O’Leary

My mission is to help others think differently – meaning more broadly and deeply – and thereby make better decisions. The key to thinking differently lies in our curiosity.

The more we question, the more possible answers we uncover, and the more we expand what we thought possible. Life has taught me that possibility lies not so much in seeking answers but in learning to ask better questions – the ones that help prioritise what is truly essential.

And yet, in a culture obsessed with efficiency and productivity, the paradox is that much energy and resources are wasted by a bias towards action over contemplation. If you are answering the wrong question, it doesn’t matter how ‘hard’ you work, you are still answering the wrong question.

That is why I am a big advocate of nurturing curiosity and innovative thinking at all ages, particularly amongst leaders because of the impact they have on us all. In my vision, leaders aren’t boxed in by traditional thinking or established playbooks. They are curious, open to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of exploration and learning.

How Might Tom Help?

  1. My first invitation is to take maximum advantage of the free content on this site.
  2. I also endeavour to answer every email so if you have any queries do reach out – you will find my address if you are curious. Your future self will thank you!
  3. If you would benefit from a face-to-face conversation, consider signing up for a Decision Coaching package (initial call plus follow up call).
  4. If you feel you would benefit from a chat without having to sign up for decision coaching, click on the button below to join the waiting list for the opportunity to speak face-to-face. No charge! You just need to make a case as to why we should speak.