Being overloaded with work doesn’t entice one to work hard. Your noble rule of giving it your all at work turns into a disadvantage when your hard work is rewarded with more work to do. An honest and hardworking employee is a likely subject of being taken advantage of in a fast paced and competitive work environment. There comes a point in which a hard working individual is so overloaded with tasks and deadlines, that their label of reliability becomes a risk for being presented as the opposite.
You’ll experience needy managers in the workplace throughout your career. There will be managers who seek to squeeze the most out of their employees’ time, and seldom care for contentment of their employees. Being a hard, honest, efficient, and reliable worker are all positive labels to strive for. This article simply hopes to encourage you to protect those labels by not overloading yourself with work, and will propose things to remember when attempting to do so.
1. Agree on Explicit Parameters Surrounding Your Work
The tendency to underestimate the time needed to do specific tasks is a common root cause for feeling overwhelmed as an employee. Rather than reacting emotionally to requests and pleading for a lesser workload by playing to your manager’s humane aspects, be calculated in protecting your workload from swelling from the very beginning of a task’s lifespan. As soon as a task for your to do is being birthed, steer the conversation to clearly establish approximate parameters surrounding that task. A successful manager will likely allow input from their employees. Since you’re the person doing the work on the ground, your input of how long it takes to complete certain tasks will be taken seriously if you’re realistic about it.
Begin protecting your workload by giving yourself a little bit more time than you actually need to complete the tasks assigned to you. Do not be obvious in your attempts to swell the expected timelines. Simply account for the randomness of life. There will be minute tasks flying in from corners which are unaccounted for in whatever work plan your manager establishes. Agree on explicit terms for the work that’s assigned to you. Ensure your manager is on the same exact page as you are surrounding expectation and in agreement of those expectations.
2. Keep Track of the Reality, and How It Aligns With Those Parameters
There will be times in which you’re still pushed to rush a little bit with certain tasks. Sometimes there are dependencies to abide by, and simple requirements to hit. Your proposition of how much time it would take to complete the work that’s being discussed will be considered, but denied. Sometimes managers simply tell you to do something in a specific period of time.
If you fail to meet the timelines imposed by your manager, your case of being overworked will be more effective if you show clear evidence of there being too much work for you to do. Steer away from explicitly crying out that you’ve been assigned too much work. Rather, ensure to keep tabs on the parameters surrounding the work you’ve been assigned to do. Keep track of how much time it takes you to do the specific aspects of the overall task at hand. Keep track of all the stakeholders you had to discuss your work with. Know how many rows there are in your spreadsheet, and how many points of data are involved in your task of analyzing them. Dissecting an overall task into smaller pieces, measuring the time taken to complete them, and adding up those times back into an overall value is effective in making your case for being overworked. Do not embellish your measurements, and be honest with yourself and those around you. This article is written for those who are legitimately overworked by their managers.
3. Use Their Requests, and Your Parameters, Against Them Them
Once you either establish clear parameters, or have clear measurements of how long it took you to complete the tasks in question, use that information against subsequent requests of theirs. Simply state the evidence, rather than infuse it with your opinion or emotion.
“Mark, you’ve asked me to complete X, Y, Z, today, however, we’ve agreed that X and Y each take half a work day to complete, thereby it honestly leaves me no time to do Z.”
The statement above is increases in its believability with the more evidence you have for task X and Y taking half a day. Your manager agreeing on that fact beforehand is the best evidence you can have. Historic measurement if tasks similar to X and Y is also good evidence to have. Other employees’ experience surrounding tasks similar to X and Y is something you should look into as well.
In essence, this article proposes for you to use your manager’s own parameters against them in order to protect yourself from being overworked. If you can’t do that, ensure that you keep measurements of how long it takes you to do certain things, and present your findings in unemotional ways. If that’s not possible either, then attempt to collect evidence of other employees’ experiences doing the same tasks, and present your findings honestly.
Stray away from emotional outbursts in the face of being overwhelmed with work. Communicate the fact of yourself being a stable and understanding individual. Don’t be argumentative or difficult to manage. Simply try to always have evidence backing the propositions that you make, as well as backing the explanations for why you fail to meet unrealistic timelines. You’ll be less likely to be disciplined for under-performing if you have an honest, open, and evidence-based communication method with your managers.