What to Do If You’re Overworked

There may be days where you feel like your to-do list is neverending, and you begin to feel negative emotions stirring about your current job. Your bosses and employers would much rather you share your feelings and be transparent about the issues with your job than risk losing a valuable employee to a correctable situation. But, what is the best way to respectfully broach the subject? You may be struggling with not wanting to feel like a complainer or that you’re not a team player, but avoiding difficult discussions doesn’t help either party in the long run.
To deal with overwork, start by looking introspectively about why you’re struggling with discussing the problem. Do you worry that having the discussion will make you seem like you aren’t able to perform at your job? Talking about being overworked can bring up insecurities about your abilities, but looking through your feelings and analyzing what emotions are being stirred up will help you think through the issue with a clear head.
Once you’ve analyzed your emotions, look through the facts. Is this a problem that has been occurring for the last few weeks or has this been a constant issue? Some businesses have busy seasons where employees may be expected to put in more hours during that time but then the workload will return to normal. It may be best to silently deal with the additional hours if this is an unusually busy moment but there is an expectation that it will return to normal. Also, look around at the rest of the staff, are you the only one who is continuously putting in long hours or is this a systemic issue? If it is a systemic issue bringing it up with your employer may not correct what is a cultural norm for that environment. It may still be worth discussing, but it may not be a correctable issue. However, if you’re working long hours constantly and you seem to be dealing with more work than your peers you may benefit from having a conversation with your leader.
When you discuss it with your leader, come to the table with solutions. Think about things that could be streamlined in your work or ways that you could reduce your workload. For example, if all of your work is crammed into the first week of the month suggest moving one of the recurring deadlines later in the month to help balance the load. Additionally, think about whether certain tasks could be occurring quarterly or every other month instead of monthly. If you’re a leader, think about tasks that could be delegated and transition those items off your plate. If you’re not a leader, you still may be able to identify things that could transition off your plate to other members of the team. Don’t put down other team members when offering this suggestion, just explain why you believe the task is better aligned with what they’re working on and how realigning the work supports the organization’s goals.

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