4 Steps For Scaling Back When You’re Overworked
Working hard is great—but over-working isn’t. If you’re constantly stressed about how much you have to do, the thought of taking on another project makes your heart rate spike, or your work life is spilling into your personal life, it’s time to re-evaluate how much you’re doing.
After all, even if you’re managing to complete everything you need to right now, continuing at this rate will eventually lead to burn-out. And that won’t help you or your company.
To get that work-life balance back (or find it for the first time!), take these steps:
1. Make a List of Your Obligations
First, you should grab a pen and piece of paper and list absolutely everything that’s on your plate.
Nothing is too small, so remember to include responsibilities like, “Answer emails” and “Record hours on time-sheet.”
2. Categorize Your Obligations
Next, sort everything into three categories: “Essential,” “Important,” and “Non-essential.”
For example, “Meet with Project Manager once a week” falls in the “Essential” bucket, but a project that you volunteered for is “Non-Essential.”
It might also be helpful to note how many hours per day or week something takes you.
3. Trim the List
Now comes the hard part: letting go of some of your responsibilities. We recommend starting with everything in the non-essential category. When deciding what to stop doing, ask yourself, “Am I enjoying this task? Is it teaching me an essential skill? Are there other, better ways I could spend my time?”
Let’s say you’re trying to master a new technology to keep yourself competitive. Even though this is a smart goal, it may not be the best period in your life to take on such a time- and labor-intensive project. Or perhaps you really want to keep that project, but you’ve decided you don’t have the bandwidth for an application that you’re developing for the company.
Note: If there’s something on your list that doesn’t feel like an effective use of your time, it’s okay to drop it—even if it’s not self-assigned.
4. Go to Your Manager
If you decide to scale back on a project that your boss gave to you (as opposed to one you’re working on independently), you need to let your boss know. There’s definitely a right and a wrong way to do this.
The wrong way involves blaming him or her for overburdening you. This approach will understandably put your manager on the defensive—meaning you won’t get any sympathy. Avoid any statements that make it sound like your supervisor is responsible for the situation.
Instead, say something along the lines of, “I’m really excited to have gotten so many great work opportunities lately. Unfortunately, I think I might have been a bit tooenthusiastic and said yes to more projects than I can feasibly handle. With your sign-off, I’d like to take a break from working on [insert what you’re dropping here]. By slightly down-sizing my work-load, I can make sure that everything I’m doing is completed to my utmost ability.”
Almost everyone has experienced this situation, so when you present your case in a way that doesn’t make your boss feel attacked, you’re likely to get the response you’re looking for: “Of course! Let me know if there’s any way I can help or anything else you’d like to temporarily take off your plate.”
Hopefully, these four steps will help you achieve some work-life balance. Even though you may be putting in less hours, you’ll be more productive, engaged, and happy while you actually are working!
About Signature Consultants, LLC
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the seventh consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is now the 14th largest IT staffing firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 26 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit www.sigconsult.com.