If there is any phrase I hate hearing when I ask how someone is, it’s “I’m busy.”
It shuts down dialogue and it’s lazy. Let’s face it, everyone is busy, and being busy doesn’t mean the work that you’re doing is important. It simply means that you think you are doing a lot of work – but it’s not necessarily good work.
pac executive’s recent Workplace Productivity survey of over 1,300 Australians found that people who work long hours tend to be less happy, and less productive.
As with other research done by academics and industry, the threshold that shouldn’t be consistently crossed is 50 hours per week. People who work 50 hours or more per week are 10% less likely to identify as being productive and are less likely to believe they are happy at work.
While we all have times when we have to put in extra hours for one reason or another, if you’re consistently working long hours, you’re likely to be harming your career rather than enhancing it.
Here are four reasons to get your workaholic tendencies under control:
Your energy depletes
If you glue yourself to your desk chair all day trying to get work done you will find it hard to focus, problem solve and communicate effectively. We move from a high energy state into a physiologically drained one in 90 to 120 minute cycles (ultradian rhythms). For this reason we recommend working in intervals and taking regular breaks to restore your energy after periods of high work intensity.
Each person works to a different rhythm and the activities you use to recover will be personal to you. You may find a 10 minute walk restorative, alternatively chatting to colleagues, watching YouTube clips or reading the paper is energising for you.
You’re not very nice
Have you noticed what happens to your tolerance levels when you’ve been working long hours? You’re emails become shorter, you snap at your loved ones (who are already sore at you because you’re always working) and you may have even become the office martyr.
It’s all well and good to be a hard worker but you catch more flies with honey. In business we are so dependent on other people (peers, managers, clients and employees) to be agreeable and follow through.
You are boring
When you talk to your friends do their eyes glaze over? For some reason they aren’t interested in the new financial reporting system you’ve implemented at work, are they? It’s not just your friends that find you boring when you work too much, it’s probably your clients too. If your role is dependent upon building relationships you need to have stories to engage people, and you’re more likely to be able to do so when you have a life outside of work.
You set a bad example
Do the bags under your eye have their own baggage? Is your skin white from lack of sunshine having locked yourself inside, weekend after weekend, working when everyone else was enjoying their time off?
These days, an essential part of our Employee Value Proposition comes down to work-life balance. Your colleagues and employees want to know it’s possible to be successful and happy. As the saying goes, “happy employees lead to happy clients”.
So this afternoon give yourself a deadline to leave on time. Notice, first of all, that the world doesn’t fall apart when you don’t put in your standard extra two hours work. Enjoy your night off, and see how refreshed you feel tomorrow.
Cholena Orr is a business builder who is passionate about mindfulness and lifting people up. She heads pac executive Human Capital — a training, coaching and consulting business offering a range of models designed to support Human Capital needs throughout the business lifecycle; from clarifying strategy and goals through to working with individuals to help them become more resilient. You can find Cholena on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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