Working Overtime? How to Say No to Extra Work

Keeping up with the company you work for can be exhausting. When your boss doesn’t know the difference between work time and home time, you need to learn to say no. 

Setting boundaries between yourself and your workplace is something they ought to teach in school. Indeed, the modern teacher inspires their students to be mindful of their own needs. However, the past X generations of humans on this little globe have grown up learning that hard work is the most valuable resource of all. Demanding work earns more money. At what point do we start charging our workplaces for the damage the upset in our work-life balance is doing to our health?

What Happens If You Work Constantly?

Burnout is a modern term for an ancient problem. There are workplaces which demand constant action from employees. 

Think of a hospital, for example. During the Covid crisis the hospitals were at full capacity for months on end. The virus stretched doctors and nurses to the limits of what was possible. Each day was horrendous. While the rest of the country struggled with working from home, they struggled with constant workloads. They became burnt out from working so hard. 

Recovering from burnout can take as long as five years. You may recover within a few days or weeks, or it could take years. The recovery time relates to the length of time your stress was building for.

Is Your Boss Forcing You to Break Labor Laws?

If you do know how to set healthy boundaries but you feel your boss is breaking labor laws, you should seek legal assistance. Talk to an HKM employment attorney to find out if your workplace is committing a crime. If there are no crimes but your boss won’t take no for an answer, it is time to start looking for other work.

How to Say No to Extra Work?

Sometimes we don’t have the psychological tools we need to say no to people. Saying no is a skill that we might not learn in childhood. Women learn that saying no is rude from an early age, for example. We need to learn this skill to start setting healthy boundaries. 

There are techniques that can help you. Try the following things.


Say no immediately when your boss asks you. Do not give yourself time to get nervous. Blurt it out. You don’t need to give a reason but practicing one won’t hurt. What about “No, I am spending time with my family that day.”

Thank Them

Thank your boss, your partner, your child, your friend – whoever it is that you need to say no to. Thank them, then tell them you can’t do it. Again, you don’t need a reason, but try saying that you feel burnt out if they press you.

Remove Guilt

The biggest reason you say yes is that you feel guilt when you say no. Remove the guilt. Here’s the big secret to this: anyone using guilt to get you to agree to them is outright manipulating you so that you will do what they want. Once you recognize that guilting someone into action is manipulation, it becomes far easier to say no.

What Next?

Recent Articles