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Feeling Overloaded at Work?


Work overload has many characteristics, including not being able to say no, constantly making lists, always thinking about work and working over 40 hours all the time. It can harm family and social relationships, contribute to insomnia, and make you physically worn out. Sometimes it can be an addiction, much like any other, and require a program in order to help.

However, there are also small steps to help along the way:


Is Your Time Use Aligned With Goals?

    • Make your goals “SMART:” Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bounded.
    • Prioritize tasks related to goals, and assign importance to each one.
    • Break up time consuming tasks into manageable pieces.
    • Keep track of tasks and deadlines with a date book or calendar.
    • Be flexible, deliberately.

Are You Able To Say No?

  • Be polite but firm: saying “No” to one thing is saying “Yes” to many others.
  • Anticipate requests and warn others of your existing commitments.

Do You Take on Too Much?

  • Set limits and simplify your work.
  • Share the load.
  • Design a work plan, specifically listing work hours and duties.
  • Each day set aside some time for yourself.
  • Limit time at work; take time off.


Being Asked to Do Too Much

Once you put this advice to work, you’re likely to feel more comfortable.  However, if the very requirements of your job are unmanageably large, then it’s time to discuss that with your supervisor.  In preparation for a discussion, it may be helpful to document what you do and how much time you spend on your various job responsibilities. It may also be helpful to have some suggestions ready for how to rearrange things so that the important work goals are met, while enabling you to have a more manageable workload. See Communicating With Your Boss for tips.


Fassel, Diane, 2000. Working Ourselves To Death: The High Cost of Workaholism and The Rewards to Recovery.

Galinsky, Ellen, 2004. Overwork in America:  When the Way We Work Becomes Too Much from the Families and Work Institute

Wharton, Amy S. & Blair-Loy, Mary, 2006.  “Long Work Hours and Family Life:  A Cross-National Study of Employees’ Concerns.” Journal of Family Issues, 27(3) , 415-436.

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