If you’re struggling with a growing workload — a mountain of work projects and tasks — you’re not alone. Many organizations are still running lean, trying to balance employee workloads with budgets. But only you know your limits. Organize, prioritize, and communicate.
It’s a slow progression …. A coworker leaves and you’re “temporarily” given a couple of her responsibilities. Then your boss announces she thinks you’re ready for more responsibility and delegates a project to you. Accounts grow. Workloads expand. Suddenly you’re past the tipping point.
You’d love to be promoted (or at least get a raise). So, on the one hand all this work and added responsibility seems promising. But you’re stressed out — and keeping up this pace is unrealistic.
What are your options?
First, better organize your work.
- Productivity tools abound. Experts suggest choosing a tool that meshes with your natural instinct and organization style.
- Learn to prioritize. Just because your plate is full doesn’t mean it all needs to be finished today. Many of us have trouble leaving tasks unfinished. But by creating a weighting system, you’ll know what to tackle first.
- Ask for deadlines. As projects are being thrown your way, find out how much time you have, so you can create a timeline. By doing this you’ll be able to let the person giving you the project know of any potential conflicts. Or you can get help determining which of two projects takes precedence. This takes us to the next point — opening a dialogue with your boss.
Communicate with your boss
- If you’re getting assignments from more than one person, it’s important to communicate when you see a problem with scheduling. By organizing your work, you should easily be able to spot bottlenecks. Ask your boss for help in prioritizing. Work together to find a solution.
- Ask for help. Sometimes an assignment can grow larger than planned. It’s important to keep your boss in the loop. Suggest logical ways to divide and conquer.
- Can you say no? You want to be a team player — eager and helpful. If you’re a new hire, chances are you won’t have much leverage to turn down work. But if you’re a little more established, and your time is already stretched, sometimes it’s important to realize your limitations. Start by considering the request. Ask some questions that will give you information about the amount of time needed, the timeline, etc. Ask if you can have some time to consider and take a look at your schedule. Take time to weigh the benefits of this added project. If it’s something new and challenging that you’d like to do, but there’s another assignment in the way, see if the opposing task can be reassigned. Or can the new project be segmented with you handling a smaller portion of the project rather than the whole thing?
Only you know how much is too much. Only you know when your workload has reached a point where you’ll be sacrificing quality to accomplish everything on your plate. Fine-tune your work methods and communicate well.
Side note: In cases where overtime is extreme, and the norm, and you’re wondering where the line is … existing Department of Labor rules are of little help to anyone making over $455 per week or $23,660 annually (They haven’t been updated since 1975.), but that could be changing soon. A DOL-proposed regulation update is expected in late 2016 or early 2017, increasing that earnings figure to somewhere between $40,000 and $50,000 for any employee (managerial or otherwise). And that proposed threshold will likely increase with inflation, always equaling the 40th percentile of earnings for full-time salaried workers, reports HRMorning.com.