Monday, December 26, 2016

How to Cut Your Workload in 2017

Most of us take time off around the holidays, and it's a good time to reflect about what we do -- and do not -- want to do in the coming new year.

Be healthier? Yes.
Spend more time with family and friends? Yes.
Do better in our jobs? Yes.
Be taken advantage of by the boss? Nope.

None of us write "let the boss treat me like a doormat" on our list of new year's resolutions, but yet somehow it's the one thing we can count on fulfilling.

But how do you tell an ambitious boss -- who has no problem working weekends and after hours -- that you don't want to work 80-hour weeks? That you don't want to live and breath your job 24/7? That you would like to have a life?

On the one hand, you don't want to work so many hours. But on the other hand, you do want to get ahead in your job and don't want the boss to think you're a slacker.

If you're caught in such a situation, it's time to:

  • Assess your workload. Spend a week carefully noting your workload. Look at how much time you spend doing certain tasks, the time you're allotted to get it done, the time the work is assigned (are too many assignments coming in a 4:30 p.m. on Friday?) and how many tasks are given to you because someone else didn't get them done.
  • Present your case. Once you have a clear idea of your workload, then you're in a better position to negotiate for changes. Bosses don't want an "I think" argument -- they want to look at facts and have you tell them what you know. Explain how the workload is hurting your productivity -- you need more downtime to regenerate so you can deliver better results. Be prepared to point out bottlenecks that keep you at the office longer, meetings you don't really need to attend or emails that could wait to be answered during working hours.
  • Get to the bottom line. Rehearse your presentation to the boss so that it's concise and quickly points out the advantages, such as cutting overtime pay or leading to more creative or innovative solutions from you if you're not so exhausted. Suggest alternatives, such as letting an intern do some of the more mundane tasks or teaching a colleague how to use certain software.
  • Stay cool. The boss may push back on some of your ideas, so back off for a  bit and let her get used to the idea of changing your workload. Continue to be professional and upbeat, showing the boss that you're not abandoning her, and continue to be a team player. Once she doesn't feel threatened, she may be more open to your ideas and slowly start to ease your workload.
What are some ways you plan to improve your work/life balance in 2017?

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