Have you been dubbed a “workaholic?” Do you regularly put in 80 hours a week? Do you spend more time with your boss than you do with your spouse?
ABC reporter Dean Schabner says Americans work more than anyone else in the industrialized world. “And Americans take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later, too,” he writes.
And that isn’t something we should be proud of.
Working too much and too hard can cause stress and be taxing on our physical health, our mental health, and our relationships.
In a recent LinkedIn post, JetBlue chairman Joel Peterson shares four telltale signs you’re overworking yourself, and solutions for fixing the problem.
You feel chained to your desk.
“An editor at the Chicago Sun-Times once said that he couldn’t take time off,” Peterson says. “He was afraid the place would fall apart without him — and he was terrified it wouldn’t.” If you think everyone depends on you — and that you’re completely indispensable — you’re headed for a high-stress breakdown, he says.
The solution: Hire people who will do a better job than you ever could, “and then celebrate their successes, get out of their way, and recharge your batteries regularly.”
You’re always running late.
Workaholics often feel the need to finish whatever it is they’re working on before they leave the office — ultimately making them late to everything.
The solution: Commit to being five minutes early to every meeting and event, “and then tell others about it as a way of forcing you to curtail the activities that are making you late,” Peterson suggests. “This will rarely reduce the quality of your thinking or your work, and it will usually help you reframe your priorities and focus on your accountability and deliverables.”
You never take a mental break.
“I once had a set of partners who bought tickets for me and my wife to take a week’s vacation and promised that none of them would answer calls from me or report anything to me during the trip,” Peterson says. At first, he didn’t know what to do with himself; but eventually, he “lost” himself in a book — something he rarely did.
“Taking mental breaks every once in a while creates opportunities for learning and enjoying new things,” he says.
The solution: Incorporate these breaks into your daily life, and set up rules for yourself. “One of mine is not to work on aeroplanes — and since I do a lot of flying, I now do a lot of reading.”
Your phone has become an appendage.
Those who work too much and too hard tend to always have their eyes glued to their phones, which exposes them to constant interruptions.
“The analogue to the phone being on all the time is the office door that’s always open.”
The solution: Be sure to give yourself some quiet time “to think, to plan, to reflect in a place where there’s no phone and no one walking through the door, even if it’s just for 30 minutes a day.”
Peterson says we shouldn’t necessarily aim to avoid stress altogether — since some stress can help keep us on our toes. “The trick is to monitor our time and attention, to get feedback and to re-calibrate our schedules based on what we learn,” he concludes.
Click here to read the full LinkedIn post.
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