In my early days practicing law, I’d be drowning in work.
“How could they expect this of me?!,” I’d fume.
Now that I’m running my own business with my awesome executive assistant, I realize this:
I have no idea how much I’m putting on her plate.
I try to set reasonable deadlines and give her a reasonable workload. But I’m also throwing random things her way as things come up, as we all do.
While I know what work I’m giving her, I have no idea what her immediate or long-term WORKLOAD is at any given moment.
I have to rely on her to tell me when it’s getting to be too much – and we have conversations around that, where I expressly say, “Do you have enough work? Too much work? I honestly have no idea, so please let me know if it gets to be too much.” (Managers – I highly encourage those conversations – and frequently.)
I imagine this is the same for most people. They generally know what work they’re giving you and hopefully try to be reasonable about it, but at the end of the day, they don’t know how MUCH work they’re giving you.
This is particularly true if it’s been a while since they’ve done the work you do – they might think something takes 5 hours (if they even think about how long it might take) when it takes 20.
If you have a boss and you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, please speak up. Before you do, I encourage you to get clear on what your capacity is, what your workload is (the more objective, the better), and have some solutions for what work you could get off your plate or at least extend out in terms of deadlines.
You don’t want to just go in there with “I’m overwhelmed!” as your main message. You want to have objective evidence and solutions (particularly solutions you’d love to play out!).
Knowing THAT stuff, and with objective clarity, is a lot of what I teach in the Bright Method. But regardless of whether you use my method or not, get clear on those points and have that conversation.
I’ve had clients be SO pleasantly surprised with how those conversations play out, like a boss having no idea how many standing meetings one client was in (and pulling her out of many of them).
And if I can help you get there, let me know, or feel free to look at my 8-week time management program where we talk more in-depth about this. Good luck!