It’s easy to want to impress by taking on a huge workload, signing up for extra responsibilities or offering to help out your colleagues, but this can quickly become exhausting. It’s also particularly difficult to know how to say no without seeming impolite, but managing your workload will make you more productive and will stop the unnecessary drain on your time and resources. If you need to know how to help out without becoming weighed down, we’ve got the advice you need on how to stop doing everyone’s work.
Know what you can handle
One of the key tips to know when you’re wondering how to stop doing everyone’s work is to know your own capabilities. You can agree to do one, two or three small tasks that don’t seem like much, but when they’re added to your list of obligations can suddenly create and overwhelming workload. You don’t have to immediately say yes if someone asks you for help, evaluate what you’ve already got to do that day or week, and if you can actually make time to assist them.
If it looks like it will be a struggle don’t burn yourself out trying to help others. It’s better to give your current responsibilities your full attention and do them to the best of your abilities than to do many jobs poorly.
Learn how to say no
It’s great to help people out when you can, but there will always be people who take advantage of your kindness. If you find that the same colleagues always ask for help and never return the favour, just say no. You don’t have to be rude, there are many polite ways to turn down their request. This can vary, but make sure you never give them a fake excuse and tell them how ‘swamped’ you are when you haven’t actually got much on, you’re likely to get caught out.
You can try saying ‘I would like to help, but I’m afraid that area really isn’t my speciality and I wouldn’t want to let you down.’ This not only lets them know that you don’t have the required skills, but that you’re still conscious about the outcome and you have considered them and their work.
If you know someone that can help and you think would enjoy the task or wouldn’t be cross about you involving them, you can also try saying ‘I’m not the best person to ask about this subject, but I know that …. Is more knowledgeable than me in that area.’ This shows them that even though you’re declining the offer, you’re still pointing them in the right direction.
If you don’t mind helping but you just can’t help right now, you can tell them, ‘I would love to help, but I’m not free until later today/later this week/next week/, is it urgent or could I help you with it then?’ By using this line you’re still offering a hand, but showing them that you won’t just drop everything else to do their work.
Don’t let others sit idly by
It’s easy for people to stay relatively unnoticed, especially in large team situations, and this gives a perfect opportunity for slackers to not pull their weight and leave the work for others. If you find yourself feeling like the victim of this common scenario, don’t let the perpetrator go scot free. When agreeing to team-work, make sure everyone has designated responsibilities so you’re all taking an equal share of tasks, and check in with people along the way. Say in a friendly way ‘hey, just wanted to let you know that I’ve done this part, where are you up to with…?’ Or suggest that all of the team checks in with each once a week and reports back how their work is going.
This method means that everyone will see if one person isn’t pulling their weight, and anyone who usually would try to will be spotted and most likely called out about it.
Don’t put out other people’s fires
Of course you should help a colleague or work friend if they’re really struggling and can use a last-minute extra pair of hands, but don’t always rush to their aid. If they know that you will always be there at the drop of a hat, it takes the pressure of them to do a good job, and fixing other people’s problems becomes expected of you.
It may seem cruel to politely refuse someone in their time of need, but people will take advantage of your assistance, and it will mean that the office doesn’t just see you as the lackey if they know that you won’t always be there to help.
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