Feeling overwhelmed with too much work? Here’s how to handle the situation without jeopardizing your job.
In last week’s column, I discussed seven signs that can indicate when a manager could be (accidentally) overworking his or her team. But what if you’re one of the employees feeling overwhelmed with too much work? Here’s what to do.
Agree on projects and tasks. Meet with your manager to ensure you understand and mutually agree upon your goals and objectives as well as all projects and key tasks for which you’re responsible. This includes prioritizing the list, so you’ll know which are the most important.
Create a project list. If your manager hasn’t already helped you with this, create one yourself, using the information from your meeting. This is a document where you’ll track the progress of your projects and main tasks and then use the information during progress update meetings with your boss.
Learn your manager’s communication style. Establish a positive working relationship by learning your boss’s style and preferred method of communicating – and then flex yourself to work with their style. How does your manager prefer to interact? Does he or she want weekly, bi-weekly or monthly progress updates?
Schedule update meetings. Schedule meetings so you can keep your manager informed of your activities. Bring your project list document and be prepared to discuss your progress on each item.
Be honest with your updates. If you don’t talk about issues that have arisen, your boss won’t be able to help – because most managers aren’t mind readers. Discuss projects that have been progressing well, explain things that haven’t gone as well as expected, and then ask for advice and feedback.
Know your limits. Every person is different when it comes to the amount of work they can handle, depending on what they’re already working on, level of stress, physical health, and a long list of other factors. Learn to gauge your breaking point, so you’ll know when you begin feeling overwhelmed.
Be professional in pushing back. Don’t wait until you’re exhausted to speak with your boss. When you’ve reached your limit in amount of work you can handle, this is the time to push back. You could say, “Let’s look at my project list and see where we could work this in. It might mean moving something else out to a later date.”
Help your manager solve the issue by providing suggestions of items that could be rescheduled, reprioritized or even given to someone else in the department to complete. This will help you push back in a way that is professional, and also beneficial for yourself and your boss.