What to do when you have no idea how to get it all done?

Your boss has asked you to take on a new project. You excitedly accept and think this is your chance to shine and show off your skills.

Yet, when you start to dig into this assignment and begin dissecting the pieces of what it takes to get it done, you suddenly realize you are a.) not as excited as you once thought you were or b.) realize this project is going to take a lot more work than you originally planned.

What do you do then?

You continue to work on the project, of course! You stress yourself out to the point of exhaustion and put in late hours, instead of admitting you need help. You don’t want to look incompetent and convince yourself that you alone can get it all done, if you just focus and work harder and longer.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

Consider while you are working so hard, you could be damaging your career and reputation producing crappy work, because things are slipping through the cracks that you didn’t anticipate. You’re also going to be in a foul mood, and annoyed at your co-workers because they should know you are struggling and offer to help.

Reset expectations
When I first started out as a proofreader, this used to always happen to me. My bosses would shove jobs in my face, saying it had to be reviewed yesterday. I would dutifully review the job, sometimes while they were standing around me, waiting, and I always missed something.

Finally, I started speaking up and setting the expectations up front. I let them know, their rush was not mine, and no they could not stand around waiting for me to review the job. If they insisted they had to wait, I would take the job and leave the room.

If I didn’t set my boundaries, I would have continued to miss things and wouldn’t have built the reputation I have now for eradicating vexatious errors.

Ask for what you need
When you find yourself with projects that are just too much for you to do alone or you need more time, admit it and speak up! Share with your boss what assistance you need, whether it’s a connection to someone, guidance on how to proceed, more time, more people, more space, more whatever.

You are doing yourself and your career a disservice by trying to figure things out on your own. Your boss and coworkers may be willing to help you, if you tell them how, but first, you have to ask.