This question already has an answer here:
I am working on multiple projects (in IT), each one is quite extensive. As a result, I routinely work about 10 hours a day. Since I also value my free time, I would like to make sure that I can keep at least some of it.
Often, my boss wants me to perform even more tasks (like attending some event, doing an additional project, ...). I know that the right response to this is
I see why we should do this additional task. Unfortunately, I am already busy with other tasks. If I will take up this additional task, this will affect those tasks.
I have given this response, but my boss usually dismisses this by something like
This task is not that huge, it will not affect your other tasks.
(Jokingly) Thank god there are 26 hours in a day, you should have enough time.
But we have to do this new task, and the existing ones.
All tasks (existing and new ones) have highest priority, we cannot cancel one of them.
The truth is that it is hard to tell what the concrete consequences are of taking up the new task. My other tasks may be affected, or the effect may be minimal. Probably, my boss is assuming that I will just work more to handle everything. This is entirely possible, because once I have taken up a task, I want to successfully complete it.
How do I avoid getting more tasks, if it is unclear how these tasks will affect my existing tasks? What should I do if my boss insists on taking up a new tasks, without acknowledging that this will have an effect?
I know that I can always find another job, but I would like to avoid that.
Edit: My work is in academia (Ph.D.), so "overtime" is to be expected, and my contract does not really help me. I did not mention this previously because it should be irrelevant: I should be working as much as it is helpful, no matter the field (this is also why I consider this a question suitable for The Workplace). Working in academia is also the reason why it is very hard to predict how long a task will take: Research is non-linear, you often try approaches that do not work out.
I do not think that this is a duplicate of this question, because
- I have all the necessary qualifications for my job.
- (Some) overtime is to be expected in my job.
- My question is more about my boss dismissing that my tasks will interfere, rather than he directly telling me to work more (although that is a natural consequence of course).