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Time management - Work overload

Work overload

Many people just take on much more than they can manage.
There are many reasons for this.

Need to show how good we are

We want to do a good job and so take on jobs to show how what we can achieve.
We need to demonstrate just how good we are so take on more work than we should.

Poor time estimation

If we believe all of our tasks are going to be complete in less time than in practice we will tend to take on more tasks.
Simply, if we just add 20% to the initially considered time to all of the tasks we might be more realistic.

This aspect is covered under simple PERT (Programme Evaluation and Review Technique) analysis elsewhere [see ‘The Complete Project Management package’] and [see 'The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2'] and in much more detail from a risk perspective in ‘The Complete Risk Management package’.

Can’t say no

It is often hard to say ‘no’, especially to senior management.
However, if you have your weekly schedule of prioritised tasks visible it becomes easier to refer to the projects you are already working on.
The senior management will then have to make a decision in terms of priorities.
See also over confidence below.

Desire to please

Once again we must try to resist the urge to do everything we are asked to do.


Poor personal organisation is just going to contribute to the problem. If you don’t know where you are you will be more likely to add another task to the pile.


Trying for perfection keeps tasks on the boil which never seem to attain completion. There is always a little extra to add.
This can be a trait of the workaholic.

Over confidence

If you take on too much work this is often down to over confidence. The feeling that you can do it all.
This is slightly different from the inability to say ‘no’ which we will look at elsewhere, see ‘can’t say No’.

Poor delegation

Delegation is covered elsewhere (see, ‘poor delegation and the team’, ‘delegation process’ and ‘delegation towards independence’) and additionally elsewhere [see ‘The Complete Project Management package’] and [see 'The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2'] and [see ‘The Complete Risk Management package’].

If someone else can do it delegate it.

Non - PRINCE2 information