3,412  emails received.

25 phone calls made.

45 tweets sent.

14 cups of coffee consumed.

That's a typical week for me, in a nutshell. I receive way too many emails, sometimes over 5,000 in a week, but I can be a bit of a firestorm when it comes to sending them out, too. (Sorry about that.) I'm incredibly active on social media. And, I tend to consume enough caffeine to keep my local Starbucks in business.

Yet, I would never complain about being too busy. In the modern workplace, we're all overtaxed, overburdened, over-tasked, and overwhelmed with emails and text messages. We all feel inundated with Facebook posts and LinkedIn requests.

It's the state of the industry, the new normal.

For some reason, I've been hearing the excuse 'I'm overloaded' way too often. The reason people say this is because they want to let you know that you shouldn't give them anything else to do or they might explode with stress.

Guess what? That excuse doesn't work anymore. We're all overloaded.

There are a few reasons for this complaint, but at the most basic level, it reveals something about the person--a big neon sign blaring the true problem. When someone uses the excuse of being overloaded, that person is telling everyone he or she doesn't know how to prioritize, doesn't know how to use technology to overcome a hectic work schedule, and is not very good at managing email.

It's like the employee is waving a huge red flag that says:

I'm a complainer
I'm not very good at my job
I get stressed out by work too easily
I don't know how to delegate
I'm terrible at communicating
I'm pointing out the obvious
I can't self manage
I'm reacting to stress






Another core problem is that this is someone who can't seem to figure out how to define their own work. They are begging other people to define their work or take some of it away, but they lack the ambition, determination, and knowledge to figure it out on their own. It's a huge problem because we're already living in the age of self-management. When someone complains about being busy, take note. This is someone who hasn't adjusted to modern work-life and has a hard time setting their own agenda. They want someone else to rescue them, which is based on an outdated model of work (e.g., that only the boss can set your schedule).

Here's a good example of why this is so frustrating.

We're all overloaded with email. OK. Welcome to the year 2016. Some of us have accepted that new reality, and we have figured out how to make it work. We use technology to our advantage, postponing a message with a Gmail extension like Boomerang or using an auto-reply function. We use Gmail features like labeling messages. Or, we use the "touch once" concept of email management, where you never just let a message sit idle and look at it a few times. You receive and respond, even if the response is to let the sender know you are not in charge of that project.

What we don't ever do is complain. How does that help? How does it help to let people know you are overloaded and have too much work? It's like telling everyone in a snowstorm you don't like shoveling, even though everyone around you is also shoveling. Or, it's like complaining that you don't have enough new clothes even though you live next to a shopping mall. Or maybe, complaining that the boss only brings bagels to work to feed everyone breakfast in the morning. Boo-hoo!

My advice?

If you are that person complaining about being overloaded, take a hard look at yourself and your own motivations and management abilities. Realize you are revealing to everyone in the office that you are inefficient.

Then, figure out how to change.

Published on: Mar 30, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.