How to Start Saying “No” to Work Overload

Saying “no” to delegated work isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s one of the most overwhelming things for a few of us who end up feeling exhausted due to the overload. So how to start doing it? Here are a few tips.

The term ‘work burnout‘ is continuously showing up in our lives, as well as news feeds. Articles, blogs, podcasts, and diverse talks are aiming to show us how to stop saying “yes” to extra work, and simply take the load we can handle. It can’t be that hard, right? The saying “no” part. Well, turns out it is, for many reasons.

When we’re new employees, we want to impress our supervisors, and quite often we take upon ourselves responsibilities and tasks that we don’t even know how to do. We simply assume that we will get it done ‘somehow’, and then we end up freaking out when the deadlines approach.

However, although we don’t and can’t start becoming stricter right away, there are a few ways to step on a smoother transition, from “yes” to other alternatives. 



Take the Time to Assess What You Are Saying Yes to

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It will be hard to resist the urge of saying “yes” immediately, to the requests you receive from your manager, boss, or even colleagues every once in a while. However, there is no harm in saying, “Give me some time to see what this task requires from me exactly.” This way, indeed, you will be able to really consider if you can squeeze in enough time to help and get the job done. If not, the time you take will also give you the opportunity to turn down the request, by justifying it with lack of time, as per your assessment!



Point Out Other Alternatives

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When you’re in the middle of a work interaction, the dynamic is sometimes intense, and you may feel like at specific moments you had no other alternatives other than saying “yes” to something. However, there are other opportunities you can enlist, instead of saying “yes” or doing the work. Suggest that you take some time to evaluate the task for example, as I mentioned earlier. Or you can suggest that you take over that task at another more convenient time for you, and ask if there are other ways you can help if you can’t directly do what is required from you. In any case, you can provide suggestions based on your expertise, on how to best handle a problem or finish a job — without taking it entirely upon your responsibility.



Communicate Your Capability or Inability

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muse studio/Shutterstock

Try to remind yourself of the burden you feel, once you take over work that you cannot possibly handle. Be genuine and conduct a self-analysis to see if taking over two or three more requests is leading you towards burnout. Try to communicate your difficulties and lack of time to your superiors. If they don’t want to know and disregard your communication with them then this is a red flag and maybe you should reconsider your place in that company or organization.



Cultivate Continuous Honesty

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muse studio/Shutterstock

According to a study conducted by Deloitte, 60 percent of millennials said they would leave their current job if they didn’t feel like their manager was listening to them. This is because there is an emerging need from millennials for different management styles of their bosses. Millennials also seem to appreciate their leaders’ approachability combined with honest communication. This is very good news, and you, as an employee, should always aim to try and cultivate honest communication with your superiors. This way, throughout the time, you will feel free enough to say “no” to things you can’t handle, and become better at time management skills.



Photo: muse studio/Shutterstock


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