I am an admin staff and reports directly to at least three different bosses. In addition to them, their own bosses are also my bosses. I’m stressed and harassed doing the tasks of these bosses, all of whom are always on an urgent mode. My company prides itself on being a lean and mean organization. Everyone is stretched to the max doing multiple tasks. I go home not earlier than 8 pm most days. There is just so much to be done. I am also a wife and mother to two children whom I neglect to supervise in their studies because I feel so tired when I get home from work. But, I don’t like to resign from my job because I’m already 42 years old and it is difficult to get a job at my age. Also, my pay and benefits are quite ok, and I like the company I’ve been working for these past five years.
By just reading your letter, I can feel your physical and emotional fatigue due to serving many bosses, all of whom give you urgent tasks to do.
I can not advise you to manage your time because you have no power to do so. Your bosses control your time. You can, however, manage yourself, i.e. your reactions to your bosses. You can choose to be assertive or to be non-assertive. In the latter, you continue to accept all the tasks given to you, and doing them with the attitude of a martyr. The consequence of this is that your physical, mental and emotional health suffers. Your relationship with your family suffers, too. You feel guilty about your negligence of your family. You dislike and eventually hate yourself. Your other option is to be assertive, not aggressive.
There are five assertive ways you can do to avoid/minimize stress that will damage your physical, mental and emotional health, and erode your self-esteem as well:
First: List down the tasks given to you by your bosses and ask them to prioritize them for you. The traditional way of prioritizing tasks consists of the following:
A – Important and urgent tasks
B – Important but not urgent tasks
C – Not important but urgent tasks
D – Not important and not urgent tasks
When a boss calls you or comes to you to give you a task, respectfully ask them to put it into the appropriate column. In this way, they know how loaded you are with the A tasks. If there are a number of A tasks, ask your bosses to prioritize them into A1, A2, A3, A4, and so on.
Second: Do take your breaks: 15 mins. mid morning, 1 hour for lunch and 15 mins. mid-afternoon. Put a sign on your desk that says: Break Time or Lunch Time. Get out of your work area during break time. Take your lunch out of the office so you have a change of scenery. The break will be good for your physical; mental and emotional health.
Third: Ask your boss if you can work on the tasks they have given you only until 7 pm because you have to go home to take care of the needs of your own children.
Fourth: Make a record of the length of time it takes you to do a task so that you can give this information to your bosses if they give you tasks to be done, and to rush them.
Fifth: Monitor and record the tasks you do for the day. I suggest a chart like the one below that you can easily fill out and is visible to you and to your bosses.
|Priority||Task||Given by||Approximate length of time to accomplish||Time to start||Time to finish||Remarks|
|A1||Report on weekly sales with daily sales figure||JGS||30 mins.||8:15 am||8:45 am||Done|
|A2||Proposal to XYZ Corp with attachments||JOS||30 mins.||8:50||9:20||Done|
|A3||Call up Mr. Ganzon of ABC Corp.||DSU||5 mins.||9:25||9:30||Done|
Keeping a chart like this one will serve as a feedback to your bosses and gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Do not assume that if you are assertive, your bosses will be angry at you. Think positive of them: assume that they will be reasonable; that they will understand that you have family obligations, too; and that you have your own personal needs, such as need to rest and relax (in order to re-charge you), need to socialize, etc.
There are employees who accept all the tasks given to them but criticize or bad mouth the people who give them these tasks. This is not good for your professional image; neither for your soul. Exhausted and stressed employees become ineffective; they may accomplish the tasks given to them but they become irritable and impatient with their peers, with employees of lower status and even with external customers.
I’m not in favor of you working late in the office or doing work on Saturday unless urgently needed. To do so will affect the quality of your life. You may not have work/life balance but at least give yourself a break for you are a human being with basic needs to satisfy and values to actualize.
God bless you.