How to tell your manager you have too much work on

How to tell your manager you have too much work on

Feeling continually overworked can have a negative impact on both your productivity and wellbeing. How can you best manage the situation?

Rarely a day goes by without a mention of how stress can affect workplace productivity and wellbeing. If you find yourself putting in extra hours at work while the to-do list keeps mounting, which is incredibly common in the accounting profession, chances are you’re overworked. When you can’t devote adequate time and attention to each task, you end up feeling constantly stressed and your performance takes a beating.

Though asking your boss to lighten your workload may feel difficult, the truth is they may not have oversight of how much they’re giving you – or a realistic idea of how long certain tasks take. Working too much will ultimately have an adverse effect on your wellbeing and is a major cause for burn out.

There are different ways to cope with and mitigate burnout, however it often starts with one simple action – talking to your boss about concerns with your workload. Whilst that may seem like a scary prospect, we’ve shared some ways to get yourself ready for such a conversation to prepare you to take positive steps forward.

Acknowledge your limits

If you have an unrealistically heavy workload, admitting that you can’t do it all is the first step towards getting the situation back under control. Thinking that working a bit longer or a bit harder will help you cope is a fantasy. If you have more work than you can complete, the chances are the problem is only going to get worse.

Instead, try to take control of the situation. One of the most important ways to do that is to get used to saying ‘no’ to those who keep piling work on, or at least making sure they have more realistic expectations of your current workloads and delivery deadlines. If you don’t, the quality of your work could suffer, you may miss deadlines and you could become so exhausted your health will be affected too.

Confide in a friend

Before talking with your boss, a great first step is to confide in a friend or someone close to you about how you’re feeling. Discussing what you’ve been working on and how much time it’s taking, can help you understand if they agree that you’ve got too much on your plate. Simply writing it down might help you to see that yourself, and talking to others to come up with a plan to manage your time better is also be a great starting point.

Time-management advice

Before requesting less work, you might want to see if there are more efficient ways to tackle your workload. Let your boss know how long a task can take and see if they have advice on how to save time in the process. For example, you could ask, ‘it is taking me around 5 hours per month to prepare this monthly report. Is this in line with what you would expect? Do you have any suggestions on how to make this process more efficient?’

Discuss deadlines and delegation

This might be an easy fix, such as staggering deadlines, or outsourcing projects or tasks to other team members to get things done. This is especially true if there are any general admin aspects to a task or project that don’t require your skillset that could be passed on to a colleague.  This could help free up precious time for you to concentrate on your high priority tasks.

Remember to set clear priorities demonstrating your value to the most important projects, and understand the importance of getting them done to a high standard. This will show you as a team player, looking out for the good of the company.

Keep calm

Talking to your boss can be scary, but a positive outcome can be reached. Set out the issues in a clear and concise manner, bringing possible solutions to the table. No one likes to admit they need help, but approaching it in a calm, rational way will help diffuse the situation quicker.

Burnout or tiredness from work can create a bubbling stew of emotions – feelings of not being good enough, that you’re letting team members down, or that people will judge you – and sometimes it’s hard to know which way is up. Your emotions can become unpredictable or erupt suddenly, especially when you start discussing workloads and priorities.

Taking time to breathe and steady yourself can help to diffuse your emotions. It’s important to remember that it’s not your fault this happened, and it can be a great learning curve for future development.

Whilst many believe that feeling overworked can be a sign of weakness, it is in fact the opposite. By making your workload clear to your boss, you are ensuring that nothing slips and you are still delivering high quality results.

Burnout is an ever-growing issue, so rest assured that you’re not alone. Your manager will be familiar with it and should be willing to find a more manageable approach to your workload with you. Take time, recharge, and banish the burnout – for the health of your body and mind, as well as your career.

 

Laura Little is the learning and development manager at CABA, which provides support, information, and resources for ICAEW members and their families to enable individuals to promote their own wellbeing.

 

 

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