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A couple of weeks ago I got a new job as a studentworker for a webagency. The job is 15-20 hours of week. Even though I am new in the company, I feel right at home and I enjoy working with my co-workers.

To start of with, I was assigned to work on an internal tool in the company, in order to learn their systems and their development platform. The deadline for this project is this week, and I am right on time.

But today (wednesday at noon) I received an email from my boss, asking me to do a new project that has a deadline at friday morning.

The new assignment alone will be hard to finish on time, and on top of that I need to finish the other assignment on time.

My question is: How do I handle my boss expecting me to be a superhero?

EDIT: I will talk to my boss about delaying one of the projects. But another problem is that the new assignment will be hard to do on time (friday morning). I didn't have a say on the deadline - I just got a mail telling me the deadline.

I am new in the company and want to stay, but I don't want to start off on the wrong foot with the boss.

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just tell the boss that with your current project on-going smoothly, adding the new project will disrupt both projects. You have no capabilities of accomplishing the 2nd project on time. – mauris Mar 9 '11 at 11:44
and ask him to prioritize your time. – user1249 Mar 9 '11 at 13:26
up vote 13 down vote accepted

In general, you send him an email back asking him which of the two tasks should take priority and letting him know the deadline for task 1 will have to slip if task 2 is more important. Sometimes priorities change. But don't let them change without letting them know what will be affected by the change. Also let him know what youhave left to do on task 1 and how long you expect it to take.

Depending on the importance of the two tasks, the boss may ask you to work overtime to get them both done.

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Agree on this, also explain to him that the effort on Task 2 is underestimated and it would require more time, highlight the reasons why this is so, any reasonable boss will understand and appreciate you being upfront with them rather than delivering late after agreeing to deliver on time. – kyndigs Mar 9 '11 at 13:19

As others said, talk to the boss about it. It's simple math: You have 20 hours of time, project 1 takes 20 hours to finish. Project 2 would take 30. You are on project 1, so if you have to do project 2, that means project 1 will be 30 hours late. If everything goes well and the estimates are realistic (which they often aren't).

Be polite but firm. Do not fear that you might jeopardize your future if you are shot down: You don't want a future at a company that regularly assigns impossible deadlines and puts pressure on devs to actually meet these goals.

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