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Suppose I am doing several things assigned by different people these days. One of the people feels that my progress on doing his assignment is slow, maybe because I am not interested in doing it.

The reality is that I am interested in doing all the things, but his assignment is a little beyond my capability, and

  • I need to learn new stuff in order to understand it.
  • I feel a continuous period of time to focus on his assignment is what I need now, but I also have to do the other things assigned by other people, which breaks my time into pieces.

How shall I explain to him to assure him I am interested in his assignment and trying to give my best to it?

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2 Answers

This is a common problem in our society. As a result, there are colloquialisms that have entered the English language that most people understand and may be useful to you. One is "I'm overwhelmed with work right now", another "I'm overloaded with things to do", another "I have a ton of work to do", yet another "I'm up to my ears in alligators", and yet another "I'm having to juggle a lot of balls right now". Any of these expressions would convey that you have too much work. An intelligent person would usually recognize the dilemma you are facing and would sympathize. The alligator expression is quite funny and tends to diffuse tension. How you handle the problem, however, depends on the context, i.e. whether you are talking to a boss, a client, a spouse, etc.

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Don't forget the completely un-PC: "I'm busier than a one-armed paper hanger!" –  Kristina Lopez Mar 8 '13 at 16:10
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@KristinaLopez: What is "un-PC"? –  Tim Mar 9 '13 at 14:59
    
@Tim, un-PC means not politically correct. –  Kristina Lopez Mar 9 '13 at 15:07
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You could use the idiom to the best of my ability.

I am working on the assignment to the best of my ability and will continue to do so till it is done.

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Honesty is the best policy. Ask him to clarify the assignment for you. Perhaps he will refer you to some helpful sources of information that will aid you in completing the assignment. You might also ask him "How long should this assignment take, in your opinion?" If he gives you an unrealistic timetable, tell him about the other assignments you are working on. Perhaps he will extend his timetable to allow you to "catch up." –  rhetorician Mar 8 '13 at 14:28
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