A recent study suggests that working too many hours may be more dangerous than you think.
Overwork is the single greatest risk factor for occupational disease, and it’s responsible for three quarters of a million deaths each year from heart conditions and stroke. That’s according to researchers from the World Health Organization and other institutions.
You might hope that the pandemic would have helped the situation, since so many employees gained back the hours they used to spend commuting. However, it may have had the opposite effect.
US government figures show that the average workday lengthened by almost 50 minutes after the initial stay-at-home orders. A survey by the staffing firm Robert Half found that 70% of these new remote employees are working weekends as well.
While your health is the primary reason for watching your schedule, your productivity is also at stake. Multiple studies show that the ideal work week is about 38 hours long, and your performance declines steadily after that.
You have so much to gain by leaving work on time. Try these suggestions you can do on your own and with your boss and coworkers.
Steps to Take on Your Own:
- Consider your attitude. Do you brag about being busy? You may be trying to convince others that you’re important. You’ll probably find more purpose and happiness by pursuing your own personal goals and developing close relationships.
- Plan your day. Schedule your time, so you can avoid rushing around during your last hours. Focus on your most urgent and significant tasks.
- Set realistic goals. Maybe you’re attempting to do too much. Track your time to assess how long you really need for routine activities. It’s often longer than you realize.
- Minimize distractions. Zoom calls and paperwork can consume your work week. If possible, cut back on nonessential meetings, and mute your phone when you need to concentrate. Take breaks before you become fatigued.
- Use technology. Automation and apps could help you work smarter. Set up customized news alerts and use software to sort emails and proofread documents.
- Observe boundaries. It will be easier to relax if you keep your work separate from your personal life. If you work at home, create a designated space for office equipment and documents. It can be a whole room or a corner of your living room. Try to avoid using your bedroom.
- Learn to transition. Create rituals that help you to switch your mindset away from work at the end of the day. You could take an exercise class in the evening or listen to podcasts on your drive home.
- Practice self-care. Overwork can make you neglect yourself. Be sure to prioritize sleep, healthy eating, and regular exercise.
Steps to Take with Your Boss and Colleagues:
- Define your available hours. Many employees feel pressured to be on call around the clock. Let others know when you can be reached, and when you expect to take time off except for emergencies.
- Evaluate workflows. Weekly staff meetings and one-on-one sessions with your boss can help you and your team to stay on track. Maybe you’re meeting expectations, or maybe you need to consider a different approach.
- Discuss flexible arrangements. Many employees want to continue working at home at least part time. Ask your boss about hybrid work, compressed work weeks, and other potential options.
- Lead by example. Creating a sustainable schedule for yourself helps your colleagues too. That’s especially true if you’re in a supervisory or executive position.
Protect your health and wellbeing by avoiding excessive hours at work and maintaining balance in your life. You’ll accomplish more with less stress.