In our society, it can often feel like the only choices are working yourself to the bone, or death. In some cases, that may even be true – with all the inequalities people face in the workplace, it is hard not to find yourself in a position where you go to work, come home, sleep, then wake up and repeat. You have no time for anything else. Your constant exhaustion is not a figment of your imagination – you are being overworked.
In times like this, you might feel powerless. You need money to live comfortably, and you can only make money when you work. You do not want to lose your job and be faced with the daunting task of trying to find a new work in this economy. However, you do not have to take it lying down. There are things you can do to combat overworking in the workplace.
1. Job Search
If you truly feel you are being worked to the bone and do not see a light at the end of the tunnel, the first step is to consider searching for a job while you are still employed with your current job. If you find something suited to your skillset that sounds more flexible, then apply there so that you will not need to worry about not having work at any point. Find a field that works with your knowledge, but tends to have a high satisfaction level.
For instance, home health agencies overworking their employees is a common occurrence. If you have any medical skills and wish to stay in that field, consider looking elsewhere. There is a dire need for medical services – you may be able to find something that works better for you.
2. Speak to Your Manager/Supervisor
Often, you might feel like just a number to your employee. The sad truth is that that is how it is at some companies. However, before taking drastic measures, talking to your supervisor may be the first step to lessening your workload and getting yourself a chance to breathe.
All managers are different, but if you speak with a superior about feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, they may be able to re-designate workloads so you can take a breath without sacrificing your job.
3. Make Lists
Prioritize your work. This is another “first step” after you have realized how much your work is affecting you. If you can list everything you need to do in order of importance, you will have the makings of a plan on how to accomplish your goals in a timely manner that is not overwhelming.
If you have multiple projects due all at once, that is a sure sign to speak to your supervisor – you should not have endless piles of work on your shoulders simply because you are good at your job.
4. Learn to Say No
You need to know your limits. Even if you feel like just a number, you have to know when you are near your breaking point.
Sometimes, setting boundaries and protecting yourself means that you just have to say “no” when you are asked to take on more than is reasonable. If you have multiple supervisors, talk to the one(s) you are most comfortable with, or the ones that seem to have the best reputation. Tell them about how you are feeling, and if new projects fall on your lap that feels out of your control, talk to them before you even start. It will give them a chance to reassign if they can, and it will give you one less thing to focus on.
5. Consider Legal Action
If you feel like you are being worked beyond what you’re agreed upon duties are, or you are constantly forced to work overtime without compensation, you may have grounds for legal action. This is, of course, the last case scenario, as it will cost money and damage to the reputation of the workplace. However, if you truly feel it is warranted, it is an option to consider.
Overall, there are a few things you can do when you feel you are being overworked. Start small, like prioritizing and talking to managers, and if no change occurs, then it may be time for more.
Remember: you are more than a number, you are a human being who deserves respect and a safe work environment.
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