How to Avoid Doing Everyone Else’s Job

Are you not getting your work done?

If not, what are you doing? What is taking up your time?

Maybe you are not getting your work done because you are doing everyone else’s.

We all want to be helpful, go-getting, problem solvers. However, this sometimes leads us to take on workload that is not ours.

We can soon find ourselves doing everyone’s work but our own.

Are you doing your job or everyone else’s?

Whose Job is It Anyway?

I recently met with a colleague who was too busy.

They claimed that they just didn’t have enough time in the day. They were constantly running ragged and taking care of last minute tasks.

We took a close look at specifically what they were working on and how they were spending their time.

Astonishingly, we found that over half of their time was spent on collateral duties and even tasks that were specifically assigned to others.

“This individual was literally doing everyone else’s job… just not their own.”

As companies are doing more with less, chances are that you have been asked to take on extra roles and responsibilities. However, there has to be a balance in worker productivity. One person cannot do every job in the workplace.

This creates a precarious environment for productive people. When you are good at getting things done, you will find that more work will find its way to you.

It can be a self fulfilling prophecy. Until the work is being done by the few, and the masses are happy to sit idly back and skate.

Do you find yourself doing everyone else’s work?

Do Your Work

If you are overloaded, it might be prudent to take examine exactly what you are working on.

Take a hard look at the tasks that consume your day.

Are you doing your job? Or are you occupying your time with others’ work?

Here are 6 Ways to Avoid Doing Other People’s Work: (And get yours done!)

  • Learn to Say No – Saying “No” is a key skill in the workplace. Too often people are afraid of being perceived as negative or not being a team player. However, if you are unable to say “No,” you will soon find yourself drowning in all kinds of extra work that is not your own.
  • Know Your Load – Do you know your load? Are you aware of just how much you are carrying on your plate? Until you are, you will be unable to tell if you are truly overloaded. A good way to do this is to make an obligation list. This will also help you quickly see just how many collateral duties you are carrying.
  • Be Wary of the Master Delegators – There are some people in the workplace who have a degree in getting other people to do their work. You know who they are. Say “No” early, or better yet avoid them altogether. They will quickly figure out that you are not going to do their job and will seek out easier targets.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Let a Ball Drop – This may sound blasphemous from a business perspective. You are going to to let the team fail? You aren’t going to help that colleague in need?  But, wait… what is in the best interest of the company: saving a small issue now, or hiding a much larger problem? Are you covering up a problem by doing extra work for someone else?
  • Don’t Be the Fire Department – Being known as the problem solver, is a good thing. But, when people start looking at you to put out their fires…that is different. They will keep coming back and you will soon be an expected service. Strive to be the A-Team that people call when there is a tough job, not the Fire Department that they call when they failed to keep something under control.
  • Clearly Define Your Domains – I am not in favor of formal job descriptions that list down to the last detail of what your responsibilities include. However, there is a different way. Define your domains and areas of responsibility. That way you will know when you are straying too far from your position.

Get Your Work Done

Do you own job to the best of your ability.

However, you can’t do your job and everyone else’s.

It just doesn’t work.

As the saying goes, “Put your mask on first, then come to the rescue of others.”

The same goes for your work.

Have you been put in the situation of doing your job and someone else’s?

25 thoughts on “How to Avoid Doing Everyone Else’s Job

  1. Most days I feel like I’m doing everything, except what I am supposed to be doing? Then I was told it was my job to do everything for everyone else. I took a second look at the original job description. Uhh, there is no where on there that says I have to that. I guess my projects are not that important, or I can get them done and all the others. Yeah, like that is going to happen.

  2. Every time at my house, my family is ALWAYS asking me to do their chores for them. I shouldn’t have to be washing people’s dishes for them, cleaning up their mess at the table after them, or make their bed for them whenever they wake up.

  3. I am always doing other people’s job because i could not trust them to have the same efficiency and speed like me while doing the job. I end up doing a job that is totally not mine. And piling up what is already a lot in my to-do list 🙁

  4. I need some advice from fellow workers. I hired on as an administrative assistant. From the start, it was the understanding that the receptionist was supposed to share in the duties. Well, the receptionist constantly has to be trained on the same thing over and over again for whatever reason (I have begun to suspect that she is doing this on purpose). I do not have time to show her and show her the same things over and over again. I even went as far as to make a procedure for her with pictures, several people have explained the same thing to her, nothing works. What do I do? Please help.

    1. Perhaps you are trying to train your receptionist to do something that she is not capable of! I am in this boat right now, I have been given extra job duties that engineers were performing in the past. I’m not an engineer, nor am I being paid an engineers salary. I am an administrative assistant and I am working as a contractor for the federal government, which is one of the problems, contractors are not treated as equals among the federal employees. The person who was performing these duties makes a lot more money than I do and she happens to have nothing to do these days. In fact, I have gone to her desk on several occasions to ask for her help and she is either on Face Book or looking something up, unrelated to work on her computer or sits and watches You Tube videos or texts on her phone, I’ve even caught her napping! This not only infuriates me, but it is completely unfair. When she was performing these very confusing job duties, it was all she did, she had not other responsibilities, this is not the case with me, as the admin for my branch, I have many responsibilities!! I haven’t been offered any additional pay and I’m assuming that you haven’t offered your receptionist a raise either???!!!

  5. It is what happened to me. Had a knack with computers, now am acting I.T. office dude, without any extra pay for it. Server just crashed. Oh, let ME put a new mb in it so we can get payroll out… but then again, a lot of this is reliant upon a degree of integrity being found in mgmt. There is none here…

  6. As an Administrative Assistant, I am constantly being interrupted, distracted and used to do things that are not part of my job and it gets very old, very fast! A lot of the people I work with have more free time on their hands than I have ever seen before, meanwhile I’m pretty much chained to my desk! One guy & girls spend the entire morning chatting it up with everyone, going from one person to the next, while I am doing part of their jobs! It really ticks me off, they each make 3x as much money as I do and I would never get away with that type of behavior, not that I would behave that way at work in the first place! I’m fed up, but I like my job and my hours, etc. What to do….

    1. Say no. It’s that simple. Simple phrases like “I’m extremely busy with my own job right now – have you tried doing it yourself?”
      “I’d like to help, but I’m too busy. Sorry”

  7. I am currently in a job where I’ve been doing the work of both a teammate (unrelated work to my role and has no benefit for me on my resume, in fact I’ll likely get questions about whether or not I want to move in a different direction in my career!) and I also took on the work of a employee reporting to me who was slacking off. No wonder after 8 months I am job hunting and unhappy. I reported the issue to my lead who ignored my requests to be protected from doing these people’s work so now I have no choice but to let the project fail and leave myself. I like this article a lot!

  8. Great post! I really like when you point out the difference between being the fire department for other people’s emergencies and the A team, who helps with difficult situations.

  9. We have just had new management and cleaned our warehouse up but it still needs work but today I was told I’m not a team player by a couple of co workers for completing my tasks first rather than working on or helping them plus the words selfish and needs of the business were said to me should I have stopped what I was doing and helped them or cleared my jobs first

  10. Sounds like this is all too familiar. I’m in a spot that my manager gave her 2 weeks, after allowing her store to be so far behind, plus 2 others are leaving with her. They have all given up. Making this task impossible.
    I could get the manager potion if this store is ready, with one week left and 8 months behind, I just do not know how this is possible.
    Makes me want to give up, BUT I CANNOT! I need this job, or a job to pay my mortgage.
    It is not a fun place to be stuck in.

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