How Do I Manage Work Overload?

Reader Question: I am working too hard on my job and I feel under valued for all that I do already and my boss keeps piling more work on my desk. What can I do to manage task overload at work?

Anita’s Answer:

First of all, obviously you are very good at managing many tasks and appear to be organized and efficient. These are excellent work qualities that are valued especially in today’s streamlined office environment.

I think it is time to have a planned sit-down talk with your Manager. Rather than let your frustrations erupt into a no-win dialogue, plan your pending conversation in advance. Here are a few preparation tips:

1. Prepare what you want to say. Write out the points of your frustrations. For example, write down that you feel your job expectations have changed without notice. List them all down.

2. Write a task journal. Begin today; start writing out in clear detail everything that you do. Create a time line or task register of your work load and how you manage those tasks. Let this become a work affirmation journal in some way, because now you will see how much you get done and affirm/praise yourself for getting so much done.

3. Think about solutions. Consider solutions that are better for your performance and mental attitude. Write down possible solutions in advance of your conversation with your Manager.

After you have done these three things, it is time to schedule a meeting with your Manager to talk about your role in the office and your feelings of being undervalued and overworked. It may be helpful to prepare your opening for this consultation as well. You may begin by saying that you understand the challenges that most workers face in this downsized market, but it is important to recognize employee stress from work overload which is why I want to talk to you now about the specific work frustrations I have….

Next, list your frustrations and pair each one with the potential solution or say that you have a list of solutions you will get to in a moment. Proceed next with your detailed task list that show your production table of daily work responsibilities.

Lastly, reiterate solutions. Go over the solutions you see and then listen to expectations and solutions from your Manager. Find commonalities and create an agreement for future performance.

You will feel better once you have gotten this off of your chest, but do it right and the right way will produce changes that make your work more enjoyable and manageable.

Recommended Reading:

How to Get to the Top: Business Lessons Learned at the Dinner Table, Jeffrey J. Fox, Hyperion, 2007
The Power of Persuasion, G. Ray Funkhouser, Times Books, 1986

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