How to Ask For Help at Work When Your Workload Is Overwhelming

Admitting that you are overworked is for a lot of people a hard pill to swallow. However, it is important to not just admit it to yourself but also to your superior. Today, on World Mental Health Day, let’s remember that it’s ok to ask for help. You need to take care of yourself. Everybody is overwhelmed or has too much on their plate from time to time. So let’s talk about how to ask for help at work when your workload is overwhelming.

woman with hands on her face in front of a laptop, how to ask for help at work when your workload is overwhelming.
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3 Things to Remember When Your Workload Is Overwhelming

1. Cut yourself some slack

Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are not a machine. You are not supposed to work 12 hours a day just to finish a project. It’s ok to turn down a request on occasion or ask for a reprieve. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy or a bad employee.

2. Be honest

If you are beginning to feel overwhelmed, don’t say yes to more work on the spot. If you are asked to do more, tell your superior you need to think things through. Your biss will understand that you need to calculate how much work the new project will be and if you can handle it besides your other projects. 

3. Ask for help

It’s ok to ask for help. Sometimes people with an outside perspective can make all the difference. They can help you set priorities, or they can help you to optimize the way you approach a task. We are all learning every day.

How  to Ask For Help at Work When Your Workload is Overwhelming

However, sometimes optimizing your way of working or setting new priorities is simply not enough. When you work on a new project, it can sometimes be hard to calculate how much work it will be. It’s ok to miscalculate or to simply realize that your workload and your working hours don’t match. In such situations it is important to seek advice on ways to handle this issue.

Asking for help can show strength rather than weakness. And in the long run it’s more important that you don’t burn yourself out than a task being finished. To approach your boss in a way that show that you want to be able to do your job effectively try to remember three things: 

1. Act swiftly 

The longer you delay asking for help, the worse the issue can become, and the fewer options there will be to resolve them. At the beginning of a project it’s always possible to get more hands on deck. The further along you are the harder it get’s for people to join the team or to help out. Also, your boss will more likely appreciate you thinking ahead and flagging issues right at the beginning. 

2. Set priorities 

Create a list of the tasks you are currently working on in order of importance, and work out how long each task will take you to do. Based on that, think about which tasks can be completed by other people as well, if your schedule is too tight. There are always tasks where you don’t need to be too deep into a project to help out. 

3. Provide solutions

Think about possible solutions to problems. Ask yourself and maybe seek advice from coworkers you trust on how work can be redistributed or prioritized? And before you have a talk with your boss, make sure you are able to tell them how they can help. Figure out what you need. Sometimes that can be more time to finish a project or a helping hand who takes over your day-to-day tasks.  

Asking for help can be hard, but in the end, the chances are that you will feel relieved after you no longer have to worry about being overloaded with work. Sadly there are always employers out there who do not value their employees’ mental health enough to help them in situations in which they are overwhelmed.

This article is no solution if you are confronted with a boss who doesn’t want to help. However, if you are overloaded and overwhelmed with work and your company does not provide any help, I urge you to reconsider working there.

Make sure to check out our posts about 5 ways to recognize a good boss and how to know you are stressed out and in need of a break! If you have anything you want to talk about, reach out to us via

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