Is it wrong to ask for less work if I am overwhelmed?

Friday July 19 2019

Caroline Mboijana

Caroline Mboijana 

By Caroline Mboijana

I am overwhelmed at work. I fulfill all my duties, but I feel I could do so much better if I did less. Is it wrong to ask for less work for this reason? Leonard O.

Dear Leonard,
The ability to manage your workload and fulfil your duties is a skillful balancing act that many people struggle with.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed despite achieving your targets, then there are other aspects that need to be taken into consideration.

Your self-critique suggests that you know you can do better with some support or re-organisation. You will need to define what “overwhelming” means for you. This will help you identify the root cause and determine if it is within your sphere of control or influence to manage and resolve. Develop a work plan that details work that needs to be completed. Include activities that must take place, dates for delivery, extra resources that may be required etc. Through this process you’ll identify the pressure points where support and help are required.

Think through what kind of support you need. It’s always a good idea to think through the solution before you take this discussion to your supervisor. It demonstrates initiative to problem solving and ownership of the challenge.

If your work plan indicates too many assignments on your plate, negotiate with your supervisor to re-organise deadlines; if the workplan suggests you need additional manpower, table the same with your supervisor and influence the thinking by providing the evidence for the need.


While the above looks at work, it’s important to think through the definition of “overwhelming” from the health perspective, ensure you have done the same and shared your concerns with your supervisor.

Caroline Mboijana
Managing Director
The Leadership Team (U)