3 Signs You’re Taking on More Work Than You Can Handle

By Susan Guillory

Look, I get it. As a fellow Type-A-Go-Getter entrepreneur, I completely understand tricking yourself into believing that you can take on an unlimited number of projects, and that you can still deliver killer results. But more than a decade running my own company has also taught me one valuable lesson:

Sometimes I am wrong.

We don’t like saying no to new work. After all, it means more money. More opportunity for long-term client growth. But it can also mean stress. Anxiety. And delivering shoddy work. If you can answer “yes” to one or more of the following questions, you’ve overcommitted yourself. It’s time to step back and recalibrate.

1. Does Your Workload Keep You Up at Night?

Just a little while ago, I was trying to take my daily afternoon nap, but this article (as well as a pile of others I need to write) kept me from snoozing. I know, First World Problems.

It’s not unusual for entrepreneurs to wake up in the night thinking about their businesses. But if the instances of insomnia you’re experiencing are mounting and causing you exhaustion, it could indicate that your brain is trying to find its way out of a sticky situation.

2. Are Your Customers Complaining?

Normally, your clients are thrilled with your work, but lately you’ve gotten a few raised eyebrows at what you’ve turned in. You don’t want to believe that your work is slipping (you are, after all, awesome), but more and more clients are beginning to point out the flaws in your work.

Red alert! Red alert! When your customers notice something is amiss, you’re in the danger zone. You’re at risk of losing them entirely if you can’t step up your game and get back to delivering your usual quality. When you’re trying to do too much at once, that’s a struggle.

3. Have Your Friends and Family Forgotten Your Face?

When you’re overworked, your personal life suffers. Sure, working late a day or two here or there isn’t a big deal, but if it’s become a regular thing, chances are you’re overdoing it. Ask your loved ones to be honest with you and let you know when they see you spending an alarming amount of time at work.

So what are you to do if you are suffering from overcommitment disease? The first thing to do is to start saying no more. Likely you got into this situation because you said yes to every project that came your way. But I’m willing to bet that you don’t love everything that you’re working on. So the next time a project lands in your lap that you aren’t excited about, politely decline. That will free you up to put more attention on the other projects you’re already committed to.

Another option is to outsource some of your work. Hand over what you don’t love doing so you can focus on what you do.

It’s a delicate balance between having far more work than you can handle and not having enough!

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Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She’s written three business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.


2 comments

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  1. Great post on an important topic to small business owners, especially independent professionals that are doing most of it on their own. One idea that may be missing but implied in your post, is when you start to realize you are neglecting your priorities.

    I had one coaching client that loved to work out and his health was an important priority in his life. He came to me and mentioned it had been almost a week since he was in the gym and almost a month since he went running. We talked about priorities and then talked about work load. Helping him find the balance so he could honor his priorities was the next area of focus.

    It can be easy to take on too much if we lose focus of our priorities.

    Thanks for the post, it will help many, I am sure.

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