How to fix work overload and should you say No at work

Lots of people are burnt out due to work overload and overwhelming task. Let's us see how we can fix this.

Isabelle got her first job in an international firm. She was so excited for her new post but finding it very stressful with overwhelming task and tight deadline most of the time. Her superior did not have much time to guide her and just gave her a very brief explanation on how to prepare those required reports. She spent long hours figuring out how to prepare those reports herself. As she is junior staff, her colleagues liked to ask her to help in photo stating, printing, making coffee and all other trivial works on and off. After a year in the job, she was burnt out.

This is a typical scenario for most junior staff. Some senior staff face the same issues if they do not learn to say "No' in the workplace. I do not mean that you have to say 'No" to your colleagues on the first day of your work. What I mean is to learn to say "No' along the way.

You can't please everyone!

Let us face it. You can’t please everyone. So, learn to say No when it is necessary. Sure that you need to judge whether you can say "No" to this particular person and whether this will jeopardize your career or not. This might come as a shocker to you. You likely believe having to tell someone, “No,” is going to be very stressful. Research shows, that the harder you find it to say no, the more stress you incur. The act of not saying no enough can invoke a triple threat to your health. It can lead to depression, stress and even burnout in the workplace. When your brain has to constantly search for ways to get around saying no to a proposal, it releases stress chemicals.

When you determine that you need/want to say no to a request, it means that you have something of greater value in your mind. At work, a co-worker might ask you to assist in preparing a presentation for the following week. Many people want to be that, “people pleaser.” While having everyone love you because you always say yes, can cause stress in your life. You might find it hard to say no and if that is the case, you just need to practice. Everything new to us requires practice… music, sports and even saying no.

Try to find as many situations as you can during a day to simply say no. Going for coffee and the barista asks if you want a flavour shot in your coffee? No need to explain why you don’t, just say no. Getting gas and the clerk asks if you want to add in a car wash or some Crispy Crème doughnuts? As hard as it may be…after all they did say doughnuts, just say no. Build up that “No” muscle today.

Saying no doesn’t hurt so much when you realize you are saying yes to something far more important.

You end up saying no because the time you take on that project would interfere with you completing a white paper that will bring the salesmen in your organization a lot of leads. In turn, the sales they make will affect your year-end bonus. Saying no doesn’t hurt so much when you realize you are saying yes to something far more important.

There cannot be any double meaning when you are saying no to someone. It has to be firm but polite. Avoid adding phrases that might lead the person to think you are saying, maybe. Imagine telling your spouse that you don’t think you can go to see the in-laws on Saturday. In your spouses, mind, that translates to maybe and if pushed, it will suddenly become yes. Be more powerful and say “No, I have to run in the charity race, it means a lot to me.” There will be plenty of times where you can avoid even having to say no. When you are going into a staff meeting, greet everyone and then comment on how you have a pressing commitment to work on. People will get the idea, that you are not the person to go to for help on their projects.


Seek help is equally important with saying "No" in the workplace. Some staff are so shy and think that people will look down on them if they seek help at work. Instead of seeking help, they struggle to perform the task themselves. It is not a shame to ask for help when it is necessary. It can save time and you can learn faster by getting the correct guidance and method of performing a task. As long as you learn and take down those steps properly and ensure not asking the same question the second time, it is perfectly ok to seek help when you are not sure how to perform a specific task such as preparing a Management Report. Your superior will be more than happy to guide you as this will ensure you do the right thing in the right way.

May everyone has an enjoying working life!