I was a fresher when joined my previous employer. I was exasperated with the amount of work that was dumped onto my schedule. The quicker I finished it the more I got and the more they expected me to finish it faster. It was getting insane. After a point of time, I was not able to take the stress. When a friend of mine came to my rescue, he said, 'When you are overloaded with work, just tell them that your plate is full and you cannot take more.'
Initially, I was a little hesitant I was having lot of things running in my mind. What if they think I am being too aggressive or what if they think now that I know how to work I am showing my true colors. After a lot of thinking I decided to say my first no in the corporate world. I said no to a colleague of mine who was at onsite that time. The first time when I said no he did not budge he said, 'Listen Gayathri, I will be back to India in a week after which I will take over, till then I really need you to work on this.' After a point of time, I lost all my patience and told him my schedule for the next one week and the number of tasks I had to complete. I also said that he can talk to my manager if need be after which he shall decide if I should take the particular project or not. The colleague finally gave in and took care of the work himself. However this was informed to my manager by him, I told what my friend taught me, 'My plate is already full and I cannot take more.' My manager agreed. After this I said no when I know that I cannot take up a task from my colleagues, eventually they learnt to respect me and do the work themselves.
Even today I see people who do not say no to something they cannot accomplish. They are either freshers or the ones who wants to be on the good books of the manager and earn that, 'Oh, she is competent enough!' name. Nonsense! You are being paid for what you do. They don't pay you extra for doing your managers work or your senior colleagues work. Also, these people do not understand the disadvantages of taking up everything that's given to them.
1) You cannot manage your time, because you get overloaded and so you skip your breaks, lunch breaks and sometimes worst bio breaks. Result - You spoil your health.
2) End of the day, your tasks are still pending inspite of you giving your fullest.
3) You have been taken for granted, because now they know that you will never say no when they ask you to do some work and so they continue dumping you with more and more and more work.
Also, there is a very thin difference between helping someone and doing all their work which many of us fail to understand.
When I ask few of them who lack this quality in them they say, 'It's OK! Someone has to do it.' Well, OK so why can't they find someother someone why always YOU? Are you afraid of saying no? That's pitiful!
It is very important to say no when it is needed and this will definitely help you grow as a professional. They cannot simply delegate all the tasks to you and enjoy their time in the office. If you are paid for what you do, they are paid too! So, let them do what they are supposed to do. You should learn to know your limits and when things go beyond this limit you stop them there and warn them about them crossing it. If not, you will suffer. So next time when someone pushes you beyond the limit tell them a blatant but diplomatic NO!