I once worked for a fabulous manager who was responsible for a major project to automate work functions and process improvement. Process improvement was a great interest of mine. I also had some knowledge in the area. He asked if I would help him work on the project. I loved the work and said yes. I thought it would be for a couple of weeks. The project scope got much larger and the weeks became months. I ended up taking 20% of my time working on his project. My own goals weren’t adjusted to compensate for the decreased time I had to work on them. I wasn’t getting paid for the extra project either. The stress I felt increased to the point where I was constantly worrying about the work I was directly responsible for as I was working on my manager’s project. Something had to give.
I asked for a meeting with my boss. I told him that if I was taking 20% of my time on his project, then he should reduce my job responsibilities on my regular work by 20%. There just wasn’t enough time in the day to do all that I was responsible for. He didn’t realize the effect his project was having on my work. We worked it out. You may find yourself in a similar situation. In business today, the more you do—and do well, the more you’ll be asked to do.
When you get asked to do more, I suggest your vocabulary should include more than just “yes.” Along with “yes”, there’s “give me more information”, “how is this project going to fit in with my existing responsibilities”, and “what do you want me to give up?” There’s also a very infrequent word that superwoman rarely says. It’s “no.” If you want to thrive in business, you can’t be spread so thin that you can’t function effectively. You’re the only one who can take care of monitoring your time so you can be both efficient and effective. Forget about the superwoman who you thought you might be. How about just doing a great job and maintaining a life. That sounds super to me.