If you say “No” at work do you immediately think you’ll be viewed as a slacker? That you aren’t a team player if you say "No"? That you’ll be labeled as “difficult to work with”? Or worst of all, that you’ve disappointed your boss! So instead, you say “Yes” to everything, because you fear that tidal wave of criticism.
The “do-everything-that’s-asked” approach isn’t realistic and over time, it will get to you. You'll feel overwhelmed, stressed out and you might even see a dip in your productivity, morale and overall performance. So how do you spot the "do-everything" symptoms? Here are two types that come to mind:
The Newbie: This employee wants to make a great impression straight out of the gate! They have an enthusiasm for the job but they don’t even really know what the job is. This is the person that comes in early and stays late, volunteers for projects and is always offering to help out where they can. They're enthusiastic, but in some instances incompetent because they just don’t know anything yet. Did we have that attitude when we were the new hire? Sure. But most of us didn’t stretch ourselves thin by continuing to up the ante. We took some time to acclimate to our surroundings and learn from our peers and co-workers. Helping new employees establish a routine to become familiar with their team and their day to day tasks is critical to keeping burnout levels low.
The Frantic: This employee is constantly on the edge. Their motor is always running, but it's a nervous energy. Tasks - whether weeks out or last minute - are accepted with both a “Yay!” and a “Agghhhhh!” and the more it goes on, the two emotions soon intersect and that employee is frantically working to finish everything and will make mistakes along the way - rather than pump the brakes, adjust their workflow and find a happy medium that’s beneficial to the end product.
In the end, hard work is having the energy to be great at your job, and you’ll expend vital mental energy (and feel physically exhausted) saying yes to everything like you’re a parrot. Being productive isn’t about accepting every request; it’s about dissecting your To-Do list, putting off requests that aren’t critical, and doing quality work.