Most of us believe that the harder you work, the greater your reward will be. Thus, many employees work more than the recommended 8-hours a day working period. Why? (More about this in my upcoming posts) It is a general culture. We have to meet the deadlines so we work the whole night. The boss needs it immediately so we stay in the office for extended hours. It has always been like that. No wonder many people are terrified of going to work. However, it should not be like that. Excessive working brings more problem rather than good in the end. Below are some of the reasons why you definitely should balance your time spent in the office.
Burn-out and mental health problems
As per Wikipedia, “Mental effects related to overtime work include lower working satisfaction, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation”. There were already studies conducted that correlates depression and anxiety with working more than the standard working hours. Excessive work equals excessive stress.
During my first year working (just after graduation), I have already developed the habit of working more than the standard office hours (35-40 hours per week). It did not take long until I have reached state of burnout. During my 2nd year, I was barely getting by. Some people handle stress pretty well but I was definitely not one of them. I dreaded going to work; My tasks were monotonous; I felt depressed, hopeless and restless. It felt as though all of my passion and motivation were taken away from me. The burn-out took a significant toll on my self-esteem and enthusiasm towards work. Believe me, it was a long time before I was able to get back on my feet.
Conflicts in personal and work relationship
Long hours working takes away our time for our social life. Relationships with your loved ones may suffer. Work Stress and demanding work schedules may also interfere with marriage. You see, time for your partner is very important in maintaining a happy relationship. Imagine you are on your deathbed, do you think you would not regret spending more time in the office rather than with your family?
In addition to that, stress from overworking is not healthy for the whole team. Stress makes one irritable. We all know we need proper rest in order to get along better with the rest of the crew. We do not want to be that jerk that lashes out and gets emotional on the team meeting just because he is exhausted.
Overworking is unhealthy. According to the study published by The Lancet, Employees who work long hours have a higher risk of stroke than those working standard hours. Working more than the standard hours per week also increases the risk of coronary heart diseases, type 2 diabetes etc. (as per healthline.com & healthywomen.org)
Once out in the field, you will really observe the effect of stress and not getting enough rest. Workmate files another sick leave because he is not feeling well again. Then your other mate is complaining about his migraine. These symptoms are often dismissed as normal part of our working activities. We ignore and put up with it. We ignore the signals that says we have to rest. However, these little symptoms may lead to things that are more serious. We should take more care of our health. Life is short; let us not make it shorter.
Let’s skip the financial implications of sickness caused by overworking because that’s too obvious. I do not know about you, but stress fuels my bad spending habits. Yeah, you have worked hard so you have to treat yourself big time. Therefore, you have this impulse to buy more than what you need. You have this whim to buy more food, more gadget as reward for yourself. We have all been there. I am not saying that treating yourself is a bad idea. Treating yourself is necessary. However, stress sometimes makes our impulses get out of hand. Thus, we should watch our expenses every time we are having that bad day at work.
According to Aishling Carroll, Emotions and stress are two main contributing factor to impulse buying. Research shows that 75% of people felt better after impulse buying. It also suggests that stressed individuals may engage in impulse buying simply to relieve themselves of the negative emotions associated with stress.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
One unhealthy habit I have developed is oversleeping on weekends. This is something easy to fall into given the exhaustion but this is actually unhealthy. This will ruin your sleeping pattern and may lead to more fatigue. Disrupted sleep cycles lead instead to being sleepy at work, which is terrible as it is tiring.
For others, stress may lead to a bad case of alcohol addiction (and smoking). One study concluded that individuals whose working hours exceed standard recommendations are more likely to increase their alcohol use to levels that pose a health risk.
Some also cope by overeating. According to Harvard Health Publishing, under excessive stress, the adrenal gland release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol increases appetite and motivation to eat. Unhealthy eating habits may lead to obesity and other related illnesses.
Drop in work performance and productivity
Working overtime affects employees’ performance and productivity in a bad way. According to Professor Colin McKenzie at Keio University, Too much work leads to stress and fatigue causing a decline in cognitive skills. (Learn more about their study here.) Of course, a decline in cognitive skills will lead to a decline in productivity since it would take longer for the employee to accomplish his given task.
According to a research from IGDA, “Productivity drops immediately upon starting overtime and continues to drop until, at approximately eight 60-hour weeks, the total work done is the same as what would have been done in eight 40-hour weeks.” (entrepreneur.com, IGDA). You see folks; number of work hours is not necessarily proportional to the quantity of work done.
Less time for our personal goals
Finally, the longer time we spend on the office, the lesser time we spend for ourselves. We do not live to work. We work in order for us to survive and live. If we are working our lives out without any time for the real important things, then what is the use? We might as well run in a never-ending treadmill. The result would be the same.
Point is we have to set time for ourselves and for our personal goals. No one plans to spend the rest of his life living in the office. We should always make time to follow that bigger plan we have for ourselves. While it is true that we cannot fully avoid working overtime, we have to power minimize it and make better use of our time. After all, life is really short. We have to set our eyes on our bigger goals.
Of course, there may be times when you have to push the boundaries and work more than the standards. Dedication is a good thing. However, too much of a good thing is also bad. We always have to find balance. Pushing harder is not always the solution. Though common work ethics may have already declared that working hard is always the way to do things, It doesn’t have to be that way. We already know the consequences of our actions, the next thing we do is find balance and efficiency. Working harder is only effective when you work smarter. Otherwise, it is suicide.
Like this post? You might also like the previous post Protect your Inner Peace: 7 Toxic Things to Avoid.