I have a number of projects that I am unable to finish on time. I will not be able to catch up, because I do not have the energy/focus to work more hours than I already do.

Everyone at work is overloaded, so I don't have any options to get others to take on more work.

I plan to resign. I simply feel terrible from not being able to keep up, so it is also what I deserve. No one is asking me to resign, I need to do so to relieve the constant stress I feel due to this situation. Hopefully, my coworkers can point to my departure as a reason to delay the work products.

When I find work again I need to figure out a way so that myself and others do not over-promise and under-deliver on projects. I can control my own actions, but when others in Marketing and Sales over promise simultaneously in multiple regions and win the projects with impossible completion dates, it creates the situation of guaranteed failure. How do I prevent this from happening again?

The work is consulting engineering. The company has doubled backlog over previous year, with fewer staff. Resignation within the next 4 weeks.

  • Can you describe more about the nature of the work? What is your current position and level of responsibility? – Helena Aug 18 '19 at 11:44
  • Actually planning. In the next 4 weeks. – user107558 Aug 18 '19 at 11:49
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    You have other open question on pranks at workplace. If you and your co-workers are so overloaded, you need to first resolve that ! – PagMax Aug 18 '19 at 12:59
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    Your resignation is largely unrelated to the question of how to prevent unrealistic timelines or management making promises that can't be kept. Recommend you remove the former element if you're interested in answers to the latter. – Lilienthal Aug 18 '19 at 15:02
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    @PagMax I have the suspicion that the team is hopelessly overloaded to the point where many don't even try to achieve anything but spend there time doing pranks. – gnasher729 Aug 18 '19 at 21:12

You want to resign. Which means losing your job and your payment, possible for a while. For the company it means losing someone doing a lot of work. So that's about the worst possible outcome for everyone. Anything better than this is something you should try to achieve.

First I'll tell you a secret: Stress is something that you produce yourself. Your salespeople can create a situation with an impossible deadline. But that's not what's causing you stress, you create the stress yourself. When such a situation arrives, what you tell yourself is: Sales created this problem. I can't fix it, and I won't even bother trying. I do my job, and that's it. If they create impossible deadlines, then they can tell the customer that it won't happen. Just stop giving a damn about it. It's not your problem.

So: Don't resign. Don't work any more hours. Actually, don't work more than forty hours per week, because that's what's best for your productivity, and importantly best for your wellbeing.

Find out which projects you cannot finish, and tell your boss you won't finish them. Let him to deal with it. If you can't sleep because you stress about unfinished problems, hand the stress over to him. You go to sleep, he doesn't. Much better for you.

You will find that by working forty hours a week, and by focusing only on some projects that you can actually finish, you will end up achieving more. Instead of telling the boss that you can handle ten projects and finishing nothing, you tell him you will handle three and then you end up doing those three.

Will your boss be unhappy if you tell him? Sure, he will. That's not your problem, it's his problem. Remember, right now you want to resign. So what's the worst that can happen? Worst case he wants to fire you until he realises that if he fires you, he won't get ten unfinished projects, he won't get three finished projects, he will get nothing at all.

PS. Lee Iacocca's method to handle work overload: In the morning when you enter the office, you decide what's the single most important thing to do. Then you do it. And then you go home, after eight hours. And the next day, you do the same thing.


I plan to resign. I simply feel terrible from not being able to keep up,

First of all, it seems like you are under a lot of stress and you already made your decisions to leave. You decided to put your own mental health first, which is the right thing to do, as your well-being is absolute priority.

so it is also what I deserve. No one is asking me to resign, I need to do so to relieve the constant stress I feel due to this situation. Hopefully, my coworkers can point to my departure as a reason to delay the work products.

With that said you should not feel that you need to resign. You are assigning a lot of blame to yourself and you even have tagged this post with 'failure'. But it is important to acknowledge that this is not your failure. I am assuming that you are in a junior to mid-level engineering role, but most of it would also apply to more senior roles.

You went through an interview process where the company found that you are a good fit and made you an offer. Then they gave you more work than you could handle and someone over-promised to the customer. You didn't make these commitments and it is not your job to fulfill them. You job is to work on the backlog in the pace you can for the hours you agreed of. If with that effort the deadlines are not met, this is not your problem unless you make it to your problem.

In the future you can try to mitigate these problems:

  • make sure to raise your concerns as early as possible, if you see that unrealistic promises are made and your backlog is too full

  • immediately raise it with your manager if you are sure that you won't meet a deadline.

  • work the agreed hours and not much more, unless you have the energy and time to do so and you will be appropriately rewarded for it

  • don't do work communications off-hours, unless you have a contract that pays you for being on-call. That includes reading your email, replying to What's app or taking phone calls.

You could try to do this in your current job before you resign and see how the company reacts. Ideally you clearly communicate this to your manager: "Hey, I have put in a lot of overtime, and now have to take care of myself and willonly work the agreed hours." How your company reacts will probably depend a lot on the company, your manager and the location. I work in the Netherlands were you cannot just fire someone for not meeting arbitrary deadlines.

Either way, it would be good to update your CV and start applying now. It is easier to find a new job while you are still employed.


The problem of Sales and Marketing over-promising is not something you can control. A career strategy that depends on preventing over-promising may not be realistic. You could encounter similar problems in your next job, and turn into a job-hopper as you resign each time.

Instead, I suggest working out strategies for coping. Concentrate on the things you do control, such as the estimates and status reports you provide to your manager. To deal with your current situation, analyze your current workload. Assuming it is unrealistic, ask to meet with your manager to discuss and prioritize. The sooner they know that something cannot be done on the current schedule, the better.