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How can I reduce my overwhelming workload?

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Staff Software Engineer [Lead MTS] at Salesforcea year ago

There's too much work on my plate, which is made worse by the nature of our team's product:

  1. It's a black box, so it's hard to understand. There are very few Staff+ level engineers on my team to unravel this.
  2. I spend a lot of time on proof of concept projects instead of core execution work.
  3. The level of expectations are seemingly increasing every day.

What can I do to make things more doable?

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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago

    I'm sorry to hear this - It's always a really bad feeling when you simply have way too much to do. First, I recommend checking out this very similar Q&A from another senior+ engineer who is feeling overwhelmed.

    That being said, here's some thoughts from me:

    • Can you check in with the other senior/staff engineers? - I wonder if they're doing okay or in a similar situation. If they're also having trouble, that's something you can bring as a greater feedback to your manager. If they have figured something out to manage everything smoothly, you can learn from them.
    • Is it possible to reduce the proof of concept (POC) work? -The point of POCs is that they're a way to quickly vet a full-on product/feature idea. Here are some questions I have about your current situation:
      • Can you cut more corners with the POC work so they're faster?
      • Why aren't the POCs translating to core project work?
      • Is it possible to just stop doing them as they seem to be low impact?
    • Can we prioritize away some of your tasks? - An exercise I regularly did with my manager was write down everything on my plate and stack rank them by importance. From there, we would agree on what I could deprioritize (i.e. ignore for now) and what couldn't be dropped. This conversation should involve a honest conversation about work-life balance.

    I also recommend this Q&A about dealing with pressure at work.

    Lastly, as mentioned in the first Q&A I linked, no job is worth your mental health and well-being overall. If your manager isn't supportive and you aren't able to correct this situation soon (within 1 month), start looking for outside opportunities aggressively and maybe just leave the company without an offer in hand.