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About a year ago one of my colleagues quit her job due to stress. She told me our workplace was too stressful, and while I'm sure there were other reasons this appears to be the main one.

I was given the vast majority of her personal workload, which she would generally complete in about 10 hours through the week. (Generally the team has to work on all tasks collectively, but will be given some direct responsibilities and a few hours weekly away from the team to work on these alone.)

On top of her responsibilities, over the past few months I've been additional personal responsibilities, with different levels of priority. However, I have only been given 2 hours weekly to address these tasks.

I don't have an issue with this in the sense that I will prioritise and work on the more urgent items first and if secondary items don't get completed they get moved to next week. However, today (and not for the first time) my boss picked out one of these secondary tasks, and started pointing out all the things I hadn't done. He finished up by saying 'I miss Former Colleague.'

Not my most professional moment but I said to him 'you do realise she got hours and hours each week to do her work?'

The conversation was interrupted, but I'm now wondering how to tackle the situation. I can't work on secondary tasks over priority and my workplace is very clear on what constitutes priority. It's not as simple as asking for another few hours because we are short staffed on our team tasks, and most of those have the highest priority of all.

Should I still try to request more hours for personal tasks? Should I continue as I am? Should I approach my boss and remind him (professionally this time) of the excessive time constraints I'm under to complete tasks?

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    Boss pointed out things not done, but did boss explicitly say you are underperforming because the things were not done? Or was he just whining about his inconvenient life in general? – A. I. Breveleri Feb 16 '18 at 6:02
  • A.I.Breveleri made a good point, I agree. Apart from that you could make for a week or two every day a sheet how much time you spent on which work. And then show this to your boss and tell him that it is impossible in the given time to do more. Then he can rethink the priorities and/or hire more people. – Edgar Feb 16 '18 at 11:28
  • at my job I have some constraint like you, too many tasks versus time allowed. I solved my headache by asking my boss to use a project manager to plan the task/time in the short term. Often in the long run some boss cant visualize the task, while in a project template they can’t argue what you do, and that give the boss a visual to plan his employee. – yagmoth555 Feb 16 '18 at 11:36
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    Although what the boss said may be accurate, it was rude to say it in front of you without clarifying that it's not your fault. What manager wants to lose a resource? – user8365 Feb 16 '18 at 16:47
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I have only been given 2 hours weekly to address these tasks [...] I don't have an issue with this in the sense that I will prioritise and work on the more urgent items first and if secondary items don't get completed they get moved to next week.

The problem here is that while you don't have an issue with that and you've decided that you can just delay non-urgent items until you've time to do them, it's not clear that management feels the same way (indeed, it would seem from your conversation that they don't feel the same way.)

Retrospect is a great thing, but I would have advised pushing back when you were first given this time budget / workload:

I really don't mind taking on these tasks, but it's incredibly unlikely I'm going to be able to do all of them in 2 hours a week - I believe x was budgeted around 10 hours for this? Realistically, I'll either need extra time allocated or some of the less urgent tasks will end up getting delayed. I'm happy to take your lead on prioritisation of course.

It may not be as great doing it now, but in the light of your manager's comments it may still be worth saying something similar and trying to gauge his feedback & expectations, then try to go from there.

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