Executive Coaching Articles

Reduce Your Workload

Joel helped me identify and draw parameters between work and life, as well as maintain a balance during intense situations. I now have greater focus, clarity and purpose in my work.

Lynne Faulks, Manager, Legislative Relations,California Teacher's Association

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These days everyone is trying to do more with less. Your company and your boss are probably no exception. And on the flip side, you feel compelled to perform like a superstar so you won’t be on the receiving end of the next round of pink slips.

How do you stand out from the crowd while still maintaining a healthy life balance and avoiding potential burnout? Here are five strategies for working with others in your organization to reduce your workload so that you can get back to being effective and productive.

  1. Give push back to your manager. If a ton of information is sent to you when your manager gives you a new project, assignment, or task, what do you do? It’s to apply this two-step process.
    • Step 1. Ask your manager why this is so critical. The answer will help you understand the importance of a new task in relationship to everything else you are working on and enable you to decide how best to use your time.
    • Step 2. To give push back to your manager, ask this series of questions: “Do I have to get it done today? What are the consequences of not getting it done today? Can I push it back to another time? Is it as important as the other projects/assignments I am working on?”
  2. Rebalance your workload. If your workload is too high and too demanding, go to management and ask them to rebalance the load. This means discussing with them all that is on your plate (all of your responsibilities and job duties) and finding a strategy to rebalance your workload so that you have less to do. Others can take on some of your responsibilities so that you’ll be able to focus on the areas that can help you and the company become more profitable and successful.
  3. Set realistic expectations with your bosses. Before you accept any new project, you need to take into consideration all the information you are currently holding and all the responsibility you now have. Then make sure the expectations that come with the project are realistic and fair. Your boss needs to be aware of all that you have on your plate so he won’t have unrealistic and unfair expectations of you.
  4. Just say no. We are hesitant to say no because we fear rejection. We feel that someone will not like us if we do say no. Why does this happen? It’s because our belief system says we must please everyone. This shows Up unconsciously and gets in the way of being effective in our work.

    I had a client who said yes to all of her projects so others would be impressed with her. Her plate was getting more and more full. As others began relying on her more, a trap of unrealistic expectations began to grow. Her work product declined and she wasn’t getting as much done. She was saying yes to so many different things that it undermining her success in the areas that got the most recognition and related most to the job she was doing.

    If you please everyone, it means you are saying yes to everyone. Begin saying no more often. Practice the muscle of no so that when you really need to say no, you’ll know how to do it.

  5. Delegate, delegate, delegate If you have people who work for you, delegate to them as much as possible. The more things you can get off your plate and onto someone else’s, the easier it is for you to be balanced. Otherwise, the amount of responsibility and tasks that need to get done becomes enormous.

    Even if you have no one working for you, you may be able to delegate some of your tasks. Talk with your boss, explaining all the projects you have going on. Say, “Here are all of my tasks and responsibilities; which one has top priority?” You could ask him to give some of your lower priority tasks/projects to others on the team so you can tend to the most important items. Delegating to your peers or even giving your boss responsibility for certain projects/tasks is a valuable skill to learn. They may have more bandwidth or ability to get the project or assignment done than you currently have. By delegating to them, you are improving the productivity of your organization and your team.

The pressures and demands of work may seem overwhelming, but changing your attitude, learning to say no, and negotiating with management and coworkers to decrease your workload will make a tremendous difference.

As your life/work balance improves, you’ll become more effective, more productive, and more valuable to your team. And instead of feeling trapped, you’ll finally be free to focus on the things that matter most.

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