How to Tell Your Boss You Have Too Much Work

It's a delicate conversation for a number of reasons. But it's often necessary. Here's how to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.

by Jesse Will
A man throwing his head back while office stationery circle him, and his boss sits on a couch making...

So, you’re overwhelmed at work. The meetings are constant, your to-do list is never quite done. You’ve tried to white-knuckle it — working late and some on the weekends — until the busy period subsides but, unfortunately, it seems like that’s never going to happen. Between work and parenting, you’re spent. Something’s going to give, so before it does you need to talk to your boss about your workload. But how do you tell your boss you have too much work?

Bringing up the fact that you’re overwhelmed at work is a delicate conversation, and one that many employees are reticent to engage in for fear that it may make them seem like they can’t hack it as a working parent. What if it puts a target on their back? What if it costs them a promotion? And so the thinking goes. But it’s an essential discussion to have, and right now is actually a good time to have it.

“Organizations are having such a hard time retaining talent right now that if you’re a high-performing employee, you have some leverage,” says career coach and millennial career expert Jill Jacinto.

But whether had now or later, the conversation requires tact. Here are eight pointers to help it go as smoothly as possible.

1. Find Allies

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2. Collect the Data

3. Set up a Time to Talk

4. Come into the Meeting Armed with Solutions

5. Focus on Quality. Then Shift to Prioritizing

Project X

6. Keep it Positive

7. Keep the Discussion About Work

8. Don’t expect to fix the problem with one talk.