In today’s modern workplace, employees often end up taking on more work in their roles than originally outlined in their official duties and responsibilities. As hard-working as you might be, it’s possible to have too many projects and tasks on your plate at one time. As a result, your efficiency decreases, and very likely the quality of your work might suffer as well.

For some, an overwhelming workload can lead to employee burnout. A 2018 Gallup study found that out of nearly 7,500 full-time employees, 23 percent were feeling burned out at work very often or always, and an additional 44 percent reported feeling burned out from time to time. Another survey by Deloitte found that out of 1,000 U.S. professionals, 77 percent have experienced employee burnout at their current job, with more than half citing its occurrence more than once. Considering the complexities of the modern workplace, maintaining a work-life balance is crucial when it comes to maintaining good mental health and productivity.

So how do you determine if work has become too much? And, most importantly, how do you address that topic with your manager without them questioning your work ethic or time management skills? 

We caught up with ForceBrands’ Executive Recruiters Lauren Nitting, Eric Rose, and Samantha Sinanyan to learn how you can talk about your workload with your manager without undermining your work ethic. Read on to discover their tips.

When it comes to determining whether your workload has become too much, Rose suggests becoming more aware of your mental health and your attitude.

“When you come into work each day, what does your attitude look like now compared to what it looked like when tasks were manageable?” Rose says. “Are you coming in with a positive mindset and do you have goals that you know you’re ready to tackle on yourself?” If things have changed significantly in comparison to a few months or weeks ago, you might need to re-evaluate your workload.

“If it’s becoming too much for you to the point where you’re working late into the evening at home, and then waking up in the morning thinking about work, then you probably need to consider having a conversation with your manager,” Sinanyan adds.

When it comes to having that conversation, our recruiters agree: you should keep things light and positive. As stressful as an overbearing workload may be, you should avoid becoming defensive. Maintaining your professionalism at all times is how you avoid compromising your work ethic while asking for fewer assignments.

Rose says that a good idea is to discuss the tasks or projects that you are excelling at and then shift your focus to your efficiency when additional projects are added to your workload. Coming into the conversation with positivity and addressing what you are doing well sets the tone for the conversation and allows an opportunity for your manager to be more understanding.

Sinanyan suggests starting on a positive note as well and stating that you are grateful for the amount of trust your company and your team have instilled in you.

“It’s best to talk about your contributions and how grateful you are for the amount of work you’re being offered because it demonstrates the company’s trust in your abilities,” Sinanyan says. “At the same time, you have to put yourself and your needs first in order to continue to achieve the same quality of work across all projects.”

Nitting says that your conversation with your manager should be as open and candid as possible. You should ask for advice if you feel like you need it. When you have several tasks on your plate, it’s a good idea to ask your manager to help you prioritize them.

“During times when I feel most stressed, I ask my manager during our weekly one-on-one meetings what he thinks I should prioritize that week,” Nitting says. “This ensures we’re on the same page and I know I’m utilizing my time in the best way possible.”

Another tip Nitting shared is to ask your manager for some strategies for managing a heavy workload. Most likely your manager will be able to relate. Remember, “it’s not a sign a weakness to ask for help or guidance.”