work idiomsI’m sure you are familiar with the picture, especially if you chose a career in the corporate world or, even worse, decided to run your own business. Today you will learn how to say in English that you are a busy bee, or that you work like a horse, in 10 different ways.

If you are flooded with work, especially paperwork, you can say:

to be snowed under (with work)
I was utterly snowed under with work today so that I didn’t even realize there was a blizzard outside!

to be swamped (with)
Please don’t let anybody bother me today, I’m really swamped with calls to clients.


If you prefer more picturesque expressions, use the following:

to sweat blood
So basically I sweated blood to hand in the report on time and now you’re telling me the deadline was extended?!

to sweat/work/slog your guts out
She’d been slogging her guts out to make it happen and she didn’t even hear “thank you” from the management.

to work your fingers to the bone
My father built the house on his own but he had to work his fingers to the bone for many years.


Here are some less obvious idioms related to hard work:

to crack the whip – to use your position to make somebody work harder
One of my responsibilities as a manager is to crack the whip when the team is behind schedule.

to go the extra mile – to make more effort than expected
They went the extra mile to please their customer and it really paid off.

to put your nose to the grindstone – to work hard for a long time
He put his nose to the grindstone for the last two years to become a certified attorney.

to pull your weight – to do one’s share in a common task
It is frustrating to see that Claire is not pulling her weight and she easily gets away with it.

to buckle down – to start working hard
We need to buckle down to the winter sales project this week if we want to finish on time.


So, if you’re snowed under with work, let’s buckle down so that your boss doesn’t have to crack the whip. If you are no longer swamped, just pull your weight and go the extra mile from time to time to prove that you are an indispensable employee, so that you never hear this good news. Though if you find yourself constantly sweating your guts out and putting your nose to the grindstone, take a break and think… is it really worth it?