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How can I manage my workload better?


Q - I struggle to say no when I am asked to take on more work.  The result is that I often feel overwhelmed by the volume of work I have to do and I don’t get much help from my manager when I raise the issue.  How can I manage this better?

A - People who struggle to say no usually want to do a great job - for everyone.  The problem is that by taking on too much you are likely to work extended hours, become less effective and the result is that you please no one - which makes you feel worse.  

The key is to prioritise your work (and your manager should be able to help with that), to make sure you focus on the key projects.  Review the priorities every week to see that you are on track and to spot when priorities change.  Celebrate success when you complete a project, even in some small way, as it will remind you why you do your job.

Also allow some ‘reactive time’ for those urgent, unplanned activities that the MD wants done yesterday.  If you find you don’t reach the lower priority projects then they should either be delegated to someone else (your manager may need more resource) or stopped.  

Once you see how this approach allows you to deliver better quality projects you will no longer feel bad about saying no - or asking which of the high priority projects any new piece of work should replace.