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home : columns : dear harriette May 13, 2021

3/1/2021 7:54:00 AM
Employee overwhelmed by new workload

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been so busy at work that it has been hard to keep everything organized. My boss keeps giving me more and more assignments because she says I am the most capable member of the team. I appreciate that, but it's becoming too much. Last week, I missed a couple of key deadlines. That is not my way. I know it was because I overlooked them, trying to add on the new work that my boss just gave me. How can I talk to her about the workload without seeming ungrateful? I want to be promoted and to be thought of favorably. I'm afraid that it's all about to fall apart, though, because it is just too much. -- Overwhelmed

DEAR OVERWHELMED: Request a meeting with your boss, and give her a complete update. Thank her for the opportunities she is offering you, and acknowledge that you appreciate her faith in you to get the job done. Point out your successes so that she can see what you are accomplishing. Then pivot and express your concerns. Tell her that you are worried that things are beginning to fall through the cracks and that you would like to request help to keep the workflow going effectively. Essentially, rather than requesting to give work back to your boss, suggest that your boss entrust you with managing support staff to ensure that everything is handled well. This approach will show your boss that you are being proactive. You are not saying no to the added work, but instead yes -- but you need help in order to get it done. You can assign and oversee that help with her blessing.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have called my mother every night after work for about 20 years. She is up in age now, and I can tell that it is hard for her to stay awake for my call. I live on the West Coast and she's on the East Coast, so getting the time right has always been tough. But now I am lucky if I reach her twice a week before she has gone to sleep. How can I keep close to my elderly mom when our decades-long rhythm is broken? -- New Routine

DEAR NEW ROUTINE: As hard as it feels right now to change, change is an integral part of life. Your mother is having to adjust to so many things, including managing during COVID-19, which has left many elders isolated. Add to that her internal clock changing due to her advancing age, and life is simply different. In the past, it may have been a delight many times and also a challenge for your mother to stay up late in order to talk to you. Even though she surely has cherished your calls, it is likely that the time difference has sometimes been hard on her.

Rather than longing for what you no longer have -- her ability to be more accommodating to the time difference -- celebrate what you do have. Schedule your twice-weekly calls so that your mother and you will look forward to them. Catch up as you have in the past, making sure to listen closely for how aware and in tune she is. Remind her of when you will call again so that she remembers your new rhythm.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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