“No sleep today, my free time has flown away…” – “But you yourself are inflicting it …on yourself!”
Sounds familiar? Tons of extra work, “voluntary” assignments pilling up on your desk, friends sighing in disbelief (and resignation). How does this all come about and – more importantly – how to avoid being snowed under when you a) clearly do not want to and b) do not have to? Let´s have a look at it.
Many people tend to take up more work than necessary “just not to cause trouble” or simply because they are afraid to be looked down upon should they say “no”. Stress, depression or even break-downs follow. Fortunately, there is a strategy to learn to say “Not this time.” Here it is:
1. Plan and prioritize. Is the task your responsibility, or is your co-worker just shirking and wants you to save his/her bonuses? If you really need to do the thing, what is the true deadline? Do you have the time for it – and are you sure it will not jeopardize other projects of yours?
2. Make a firm decision. I.e. either the extra thing is “not a biggie”, offers significant benefits or fits into your schedule/agenda, or it should be declined. Don´t agonize over the decision for ages, though! That costs time as well.
3. Say it. This is the most difficult part. Grow up. Explain why this is not your job or why you are not the one who can take it up (this time). Reason. Make arguments, but don´t quarrel. Be polite, yet firm. Don´t let others take advantage of your kindness if it kills you!
Finally, being able to estimate your limits and defend your “right” to free time are useful skills to have – if only for your self-esteem. So, dear Readers, go and change the things that bother you and suck out the pleasure from your lives! I won´t say “yes, you can”, but rather “yes, you should“…