With internet connectivity has come the pressure to be available round the clock and to stretch work hours beyond the normal schedule. Companies are actually guilty of encouraging the culture of overwork, as working more has now been confused with working well. Employees stretch their workdays and work well into midnight, assuming they are building their careers and heading for success with the hard work they are putting in. In reality, they are toying with their health and social lives.

Even though from time to time, work demands can mean that we are expected to do more in order to achieve more, it’s important to know when you are approaching a level of overwork that is dangerous for your health and overall wellbeing.

Here are some ways to know when you are overworking:

  • You need more time to complete your tasks: One of the ripple effects of the pandemic is the fact that a lot of organisations had to do some downsizing, leaving those that are left behind stuck with the extra workload. A sign that you are overworking is when you realize that you are constantly working overtime and still can’t complete the task of the day.
  • Your to-do list is growing: When you are constantly trying to manage your workload but it just seems impossible then you are most likely overworking. So you start off the day with a few things on your to-do list and by the end of the day, your list has swelled, leaving you with more things waiting to be done.
  • You find it difficult to relax: Another sign of being overworked is when you find it difficult to turn “off” and relax because you always have to be “on” in-case your attention is needed. This often happens to those with jobs that require long hours and full attention and those that can be called into work at any time even during their off-hours.
  • Your health is deteriorating: Being overworked can have an adverse effect on your health which can manifest in various ways. It could be by losing weight because you are too stressed to eat, add weight because you don’t have time to visit the gym, unidentifiable aches, and pains, increased blood pressure, constantly being tired, or just not being interested in anything else.

One of the problems almost everyone struggles with is being able to effectively manage their personal lives and professional lives. In other to avoid being overworked, you have to consciously commit to managing your time to enable you to be at your most productive state at all times. Here are some tips on how to achieve that.

  • Prioritise: Determine what’s most important on your list and do those first. This would ensure that you don’t spend all your time and energy on the less important task leaving the important ones behind.
  • Determine if it’s really necessary: Ask yourself if you have to attend that meeting, respond to that email, or create that report. Most times you don’t have to but you do it anyway because it seems like that right thing to do. Take out time to carefully determine what you don’t have to do and take them off your list, that way you have more time to be effective in areas that truly matter.
  • Reset your calendar: Sometimes the answer to the above question is “yes but not right now”. It’s important to not just get things done but to get the right stuff done.
  • Find what works for you: Some people like to start their day slowly, by meditating, thinking, etc while others like to hit the ground running. Figure out what works best for you and stick with it.
  • Set some boundaries: Set a time for when you would stop working, the time you would spend with family and when you would be unavailable by phone. Once this is done, proceed to let people know about the boundaries, as nobody would respect your time unless you respect it too.
  • Know when to say no: You shouldn’t say yes to everything. Always stop to consider what effect your saying yes would have on you achieving your most important goals. Saying yes all the time automatically takes away time you need to get things done.
  • Tame your distractions: Most people spend more hours being distracted by calls, emails, text, etc that they do not have time to get work done. Have a specific period when you turn off all alerts to enable you to concentrate on meeting your goals for the day. In order to stay on schedule, you have to work on your own schedule and not on other people’s schedules.

Being overworked doesn’t help anybody – not you, not your health and not your company. It’s therefore important to understand that and protect yourself from slipping into long hours to enable you enhance your productivity.

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