08/06/2013 09:57 am ET Updated Oct 06, 2013

How to Know When You've Taken on Too Much

In your desire to strive for success you can take on too much, saying yes to every new project and opportunity offered to you, combining voluntary and paid work to gain experience, studying part-time. The problem is that sometimes you are so busy that you don't notice the signs that you are overwhelmed.

Here are three signs that you've taken on too much:

1. Over reacting to minor setbacks
Gemma's boss told her that she had made a minor error on the end of year accounts. She found herself breaking down in tears in the office and then refusing to take on any major tasks.

This was really a minor setback that Gemma and an opportunity to learn, but instead she magnified its significance and was moving it from minor to major. This is a sign that she had taken too much on, my advice stop taking yourself too seriously and realise that you are work in progress.

2. Wishing things were like they used to be
Things had changed at Sam's workplace, a new boss had come in and reduced the roles at his level, instead of managing one team, he was now managing three. He was constantly comparing the quality he had achieved previously with how stretched he now felt.

This constant comparison could drive Sam crazy, he definitely need to learn from his previous experience but not think that he is losing his group because the demands on him have changed.

3. You've stopped having fun
Nadia is a CEO of a charity, she used to wake up every morning raring to go, and now struggles into work. She is snappy with staff and wakes up in the middle of the night in sweats remembering all the things she needs to do, and then finds it difficult getting back to sleep.

Nadia needs to find opportunities to delegate, discuss how she feels with a trusted peer, and start being gentler with her expectations of her self. This will lead to her finding the fun in her work again.

If you spot the signs that you are doing too much early, they wont completely derail your career. Keep a temperature check on your reactions and how you are feeling and do something fast if stress raises its head.

I am Jenny Garrett, Executive Coach, founder of Reflexion Associates, a leadership and coaching consultancy and author of Rocking Your Role - the how to guide to success for female breadwinners. Find out more about me, my programmes, speaking engagements and training at