How to Avoid Spreading Yourself Too Thin at Work
You're good at what you do, and everybody in your office knows it, including your boss. That's why you're the go-to person for all kinds of projects and issues. But when your attention's divided over a number of projects and your co-workers always come to you with questions and problems, it's easy to become overwhelmed. And that can result in stress and under performance. Read on for tips on how to set boundaries at work without dropping the ball or antagonizing your co-workers.
- Know your job responsibilities. Maybe you're a wiz at Excel, or your public speaking skills rival those of Anthony Robbins. Perhaps you have an exceptional talent for problem solving. However, if you're a social media manager, you probably don't have to use any of these skills on a regular basis. Be aware of your job responsibilities and stick to them.
- Don't always be eager to be the go-to person. It might seem like the most natural thing in the world to offer advice and assistance to your co-workers, but when it costs too much time and energy, it's detrimental to your performance. When you don't have time, say so, politely but firmly. If necessary, specify a later time slot to offer your insights.
- If you take on extra work, have a good reason. Taking on extra responsibilities can be a good thing if you're looking to advance your career. For example, if you aspire to a corporate position, volunteering to spearhead new projects and offering to organize conferences can be smart career strategies that hone your skills and get you noticed. Just be sure to spend your time and energy with your end goal in mind.
- Be realistic about what you can do. It can be tempting to underestimate the amount of time you need for a project or to overestimate your ability to perform a new task you're not trained to do. Be frank about your abilities and avoid disappointing your team and yourself.
- Communicate. If your boss or colleague asks you to take on additional work and you can't handle it, say so. Explain diplomatically why you can't take on the work, and ask what the other person needs and why. Then try to find a win-win solution that works all round. This will enhance both parties' awareness of the other's workload, as well as set the tone for future time management and division of responsibilities.
- Employ better time management. Especially when you're new at a job or are aiming for a promotion, it can be tempting to put in 12-hour days and spend your weekend finishing up projects early to impress your boss. Plan out your workdays to accommodate all of your tasks, and concentrate on fulfilling those responsibilities during office hours.
- Use your days off. If the idea of taking a day off makes you break into a cold sweat, it's probably time to take a day off! Personal time recharges you and allows you to return to work relaxed and re energized.
Setting boundaries at work requires just as much discipline as getting up every morning to start your daily commute. However, it will help you avoid overload and burn out. By knowing your boundaries and communicating them politely to your colleagues, you can maximize your time and energy both in your professional and personal lives.