The phrase "overworked and underpaid" assumes you might feel less stressed if your job paid you more. But the truth is, no paycheck is big enough to buy out your sanity. If you have so much responsibility that you can barely keep your head above water, it's time to reevaluate, renegotiate or move on.
Before you pack your purse and walk away, do what you can to maximize your time at work so your load doesn’t feel so impossible. Office emails, redundant meetings, phone calls -- and the Internet in general -- can monopolize a significant portion of your day without you even realizing it. Decide to only check emails and voice mails once or twice a day. Ask for quick post-meeting debriefings in lieu of actual attendance. Ban the Internet unless the use is work-related or during breaks. If you’re still overwhelmed, schedule a meeting to talk to your boss about how you feel. Perhaps the two of you can decide how your tasks can be better delegated. Or maybe you need a short vacation. Either way, your boss can’t help you if you don’t tell her what’s wrong.
Stack Your Chips
If nothing can keep you from quitting, you’ll need enough savings so that you don’t spend your unemployment feeling stressed. This means you can’t throw up your hands and yell, “I quit!”, and storm out. Look at the big picture -- start cutting back, saving money and looking for another job.
If All Else Fails
Once you’re ready to go, do it on your own terms -- but do it in a way that keeps your professional reputation intact. Draft a resignation letter that basically says, “I’m leaving -- thanks for the opportunity.” Give at least two weeks notice, since your boss will need time to find your replacement, or at least transfer your duties internally. If you’re feeling benevolent, offer to train your replacement.
With a Smile
Remain polite and professional, even as you wave goodbye. Don’t badmouth your supervisor or your job, even if you’d love to shout a few four-letter words. You never know -- you might need your boss for a future recommendation, or you might wind up working with your colleagues again at a future job.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.