According to Harvard Business Review “we log too many hours because of a mix of inner drivers, like ambition, machismo, greed, anxiety, guilt, enjoyment, pride, the pull of short-term rewards, a desire to prove we’re important, or an overdeveloped sense of duty.”
Research conducted over several studies suggests that despite intentions, be they good or bad, staying to work late isn’t actually all that productive nor is it healthy for you. The heightened levels of stress linked with a work culture of long hours increases your chances of alcohol and substance abuse, sleeplessness, depression, and other symptoms that lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These conditions result in low productivity and high risk for employers, with more workers accessing sick leave for chronic illness.
In addition to the health problems associated with overwork, research shows that vital skills like your ability to manage your emotions, decision making, reading other’s emotions and communicating is impaired. These skills are all essential in jobs involving interaction, virtually most people’s everyday work life.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Fiona Hitchiner Director of work-life integration consultancy company ‘SeventeenHundred’ suggests that the modern work environment with more integrated technology can be a hindrance to balancing our work life with personal life. The ability to connect easier with your work at home and on the go has benefits but can blur the boundary line between much needed down-time.
“We’re so used to being connected but there are big problems when you’re not being present in the moment.”
Fiona Hitchiner Director of SeventeenHundred
Work-life balance requires some setting of boundaries, personal goals and rules. Here are some suggestions to better manage your work and personal time:
- Limit the amount of times you check your work email when you are not at work
- If you are required to be on your mobile phone for work, consider having two mobile phones, with one kept exclusively for personal use and the other switched off during family or personal time.
- Set time in your personal calendar for general leisure, that way you actively take time to replenish and recharge.
- Take a 15-minute break when you feel fatigued to reactivate your goals for the day.
- Set times to eat healthy meals, keeping healthy is the best way to stay productive at work.
- Switch off email alerts after hours and keep your mobile phone away from you at bedtime.
- Mix incidental exercise into your day by hopping off public transport one stop early, or take your meeting for a walk. Note: Walking meetings are great for problem solving.
Working while you’re fatigued and stressed makes you lose sight of the big picture. Rest, recharge and reboot to keep on top of your goals.