When you find a job you love, it’s hard not to fall into the trap of working too much. A strong work ethic is a brilliant trait to have, but an unhealthy addiction to work can negatively impact your health, social life and mental wellbeing. And it can even make you less productive.
The pace of modern life has become a juggling act, where our attention spans have drastically shrunk and technology has given us more of an excuse to work constantly. Here’s a handy checklist of things to take note of and perhaps consider changing:
1. ALWAYS ON YOUR MIND
It’s the first thing you think of when you wake up, and the last thing you picture as you drift off to sleep. Work, work, workity, work.
2. IT’S YOUR PRIORITY
If you find yourself saying no to midweek dinners with friends or early gym session because you’re working overtime, it’s time to put your priorities in order. Friends, family and your own happiness should trump your work – unless it truly brings you joy, as small business owners often find.
3. OVERTIME IS THE NORM
Even though you’re only contracted and paid to work from 9 – 5, you’ll often get in an hour or two early and finish much later.
4. YOU’RE STRESSED WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING
You can’t physically focus when you’re trying to enjoy downtime, because all you can think about is when your next paper is due, or a missed work deadline, or an invoice that needs to be paid… The list of tasks runs through your head, even when you’re not thinking about them.
5. CAN’T REMEMBER YOUR LAST HOLIDAY
If the last annual leave day you took off was four months ago for your partner’s mum’s birthday, it’s probably time to devote some time to yourself and break up with work for a little while. Go skiing. Visit friends in another city. Take a few days for a staycation and catch up on Netflix. The choice is yours, but it’s for you. You’ll come back to work feeling rested, reinvigorated and ready to go!
6. SICK DAYS AREN’T A THING
You see sick days as unnecessary, and think if you’re still able to open your eyes, breathe properly and have some form of communication stream you can still work. These days, with cloud-based apps and ubiquitous connectivity, you can get work done where you need to – and relax when you have to.
7. WORKING 24/7
Weekends aren’t meant for fun, they’re meant to show your devotion to work. You’re frequently checking your work emails on a Saturday night at 11pm, just to make sure people know you’re always working.
8. LUNCH AT YOUR DESK
Why have a lunch break when that’s another hour of potential work time? Why even leave your desk when you can order Ubereats straight to your desk? Forget fresh air and mingling with others, you’ve got work to do.
Whether you want to believe it or not, these habits don’t make you more productive. They hinder your ability to function at your best and can do more harm than good. Most successful people agree that downtime is absolutely critical to getting the most out of the day, and research says so, too. Next time you feel tempted to have a sneaky scroll of your work Instagram while you’re out on a hot date, or wake up sweating because you’ve forgotten to send an email, remind yourself that disconnecting isn’t always a bad thing.