Many of us feel overworked and underpaid. It’s a common mantra in today’s fast-paced world. So let’s examine the signs that could signal you’re working too much, as well as ways you can address the situation if it’s a problem. But first, it’s important to take a hard look at exactly what’s driving those who are overworked.
A recent discussion among family and friends on this subject yielded some interesting revelations: several admitted that a large part of what drove them to overwork was none other than themselves. Chalk it up to a strong work ethic, wanting to be the hero, or the fear (real or perceived) of others thinking negatively about them, some people find themselves juggling an unreasonable amount of work because they choose to do so.
Still others take on too much work in an effort to advance in the workplace, impress their superiors or because they’re just naturally overachievers. Still others are truly at the mercy of a work culture that places unrealistic expectations on how much work one person can physically and emotionally handle and/or who are trying to eke every penny of productivity out of their employees in order to cut costs and keep expenses low.
Then there are those who truly believe they are overworked, but realistically are not. But that’s a discussion for another time.
Warning Signs You’re Working Too Much
Before we talk about solutions, consider the signs indicating you’re overworking. According to Caroline Castrillon, a career and life coach writing in Forbes Magazine, here are the most critical signals of being overworked:
- You have trouble disconnecting
- You are doing the work of multiple people
- You work overtime on a regular basis
- You’ve lost your passion
- You feel constantly distracted
- Your productivity is decreasing
- You lack energy for simple tasks
- Your health is deteriorating
- Your personal relationships are suffering
Your First Steps
One of the first steps to take to address your out-of-control workload is to honestly and objectively assess the situation and get to the root of what is causing the imbalance between work and your personal life. Only when you have identified the reasons can you find workable solutions.
For example, maybe you need to set boundaries or better communicate those boundaries to yourself and those around you. This might mean turning your work computer and cell phone off after hours or setting a schedule for when and how much you’ll check in outside of the typical work day. It could be setting a hard stop at the end of the day and sticking to it, when possible. Then manage expectations by letting your bosses and coworkers know the steps you are taking to lead a more balanced life.
Examining Your Workload
Another strategy would be to examine your workload with your supervisor and together establish priorities and timelines for performing the work. That way everyone has clear expectations for reaching goals and meeting deadlines.
Avoiding Burn Out
Another tactic to consider is to put yourself first for a change. Take advantage of leave time or delegate responsibilities when applicable. While this might sound unheard of to some, consider the downside: burn out, exhaustion, irritability and illness due to overwork ultimately result in a loss of productivity – the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
Dealing With Unrealistic Expectations
Then again if you’re working too hard and too much because your employer has unrealistic expectations and the organizational culture is such that you have to grin and bear it if you want to get a paycheck, it might be time to make some changes. Dust off your resume, take classes to broaden your skills, research job opportunities and work to build confidence in yourself through the help of family, friends and perhaps even licensed professionals. Remember that life is too short to be miserable at work and only you can do something about it.