The Overworking Epidemic: How to Regain Control of Your Time and Avoid Burnout  

The Overworking Epidemic: How to Regain Control of Your Time and Avoid Burnout  

Do you find yourself constantly connected to work? Are you still juggling multiple tasks during working hours and answering emails even after your shift?

Today’s employees are exposed to the idea that they should work harder for longer hours to achieve success. This popular belief is part of the hustle culture that is slowly creating an epidemic of overworking in many industries.

 

Defining Overworking Epidemic 

An epidemic is a disease that affects a lot of people within a specific community or region. Although overwork is not an actual disease caused by germs or bacteria, it is still a factor that impacts people’s health and overall well-being.

In the context of employment, overworking is rampant in many, if not all, fields of work in the United States. It is a concept that has been around even decades back. For example, a global study published by Environment International, found that people who work for 55 hours a week or more face a higher risk of stroke by 35 percent.¹

 

Negative Consequences of Overworking 

Generally, a normal work week consists of 40 hours. This includes not only the time spent on big tasks but also time finishing small things like responding to workmates about a project.

A study in 2021 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the ILO claimed that overworking can lead to consequences for a person’s health.

Some examples of bad mental and physical effects of overworking for employees are as follows:

  • Physical fatigue – When people are overworked, they usually push their bodies beyond their limits just so they can accommodate everything that they need to do. Done continuously, it can lead to exhaustion and fatigue
  • A feeling of restlessness – People who overwork themselves often find it difficult to relax since they are constantly thinking of the next task at hand. This leads to their inability to have the proper rest their minds and bodies need.
  • Lack of motivation – If employees are physically and emotionally tired, they may develop unhealthy thinking that can negatively affect their motivation. For example, they may start viewing work as a never-ending cycle which can make everything seem more like a chore than a productive activity.
  • Difficulty in concentration – When people are exhausted, they usually find it difficult to focus on their tasks. This is a problematic consequence, especially for roles that require attention to detail.
  • Constant negativity – Overworked individuals often adopt negative emotions like resentment and irritability. People who feel frustrated and burnt out from overworking sometimes lash out, whether at work or at home. The feeling of constant negativity can affect the mental health of a person.

 

Step-by-step Guide for Overcoming the Tendency to Overwork 

Others say that you need to find a job you love so that you don’t have to work a single day in your life – but this is just not true. It doesn’t matter much if you love your job or you’re passionate about it, working too much can and will cause burnout.

To prevent negative effects of overworking and to fight off the tendency of overexerting yourself, here are some easy steps you can follow.

 

Step One: Find out why you overwork yourself.

As mentioned in a Forbes article, 83 percent of people in the U.S. claim to suffer from stress caused by their work-centric lifestyles.4 This shows that most of the population overwork themselves, but for what reason?

To prevent overworking yourself, you need to first understand why you do it. You need to take a minute and reflect on your motivation for working since it will reveal the true reasons why you overwork yourself. For example…

  • I work to succeed. – A study conducted on employees working in professional firms showed that people believe working long hours increases their chances for promotions. Do you have the same belief? If you do, then you might overwork yourself the more you want to climb the professional ladder.
  • I work to prove myself. – The society we live in defines a successful person as someone who has everything together. In a professional context, simply not being knowledgeable about everything can cause imposter syndrome and can increase your desire to overwork just to prove yourself to others.
  • I work because I like being busy. – If this is your main purpose for working, your tendency to overwork is high since you are most likely using work as an escape. It’s best to think about why this is your reason. Are you trying to avoid having time for yourself? Do you equate constant work with your purpose?

 

Step Two: Observe signs of overwork.

Before any symptoms of overworking your body can even show, you need to know if you really are working too much. This is the only way for you to prevent any possible burnout or illness from overwork.

There may be different signs depending on the industry you are in, but the following are general indicators of overworking.

  • You are taking on more responsibilities than your coworkers with the same role or title.
  • You’re made responsible for many tasks outside of your job description.
  • Work constantly occupies your thoughts which makes it difficult to relax even at the end of the day.
  • A day at work negatively affects your outlook on life.
  • Taking time away from work is difficult for you to do.

 

Step Three: Change your mindset about work.

Once you know you’re overworking and the reason why you do, it’s time to change the way you think.

To start, you need to re-evaluate all of your beliefs and values about work. It’s admirable to consider your job as an important aspect of your life but remember that it is not the only part.

Since employees have different ways of thinking, the shift in mindset that you need to make might be different from everyone else’s. Instead of asking others, take the time to concentrate, reflect, and ask yourself.

The following are some examples of mindset changes you can have to prevent overworking:

  • Instead of focusing on the quantity of your finished tasks, focus on the quality. This can prevent the stress of rushing to finish a job in an unreasonable amount of time.
  • Consider breaks as necessary instead of a waste of time. Dedicating a part of your day to relaxing and unwinding is not a sign of laziness. Instead, it is the best way to take care of your long-term health and productivity.

 

Step Four: Slowly build healthy working habits.

Preventing overwork is not a task that can be done overnight. It takes consistent effort to stop yourself from acting out your usual tendencies.

The best way to prevent yourself from overworking is to learn about healthy work habits that you can adopt in your daily work life. Whether it’s taking regular breaks throughout the day or prioritizing sleep and exercise for your overall health, reminding yourself about these good habits will guide your daily decisions.

According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes an average of 66 days (about 2 months) for a new behavior to become automatic. The length of the time needed even depends on how difficult the task is for a person.²

Remember that you don’t need to rush. Take your time to slowly change your bad working habits into better ones.

 

Step Five: Continuously evaluate and adjust.

The journey of preventing overwork is not a straight path. There are many factors that you need to consider on a daily basis. For example, sudden deadlines are given to you for a project, or your health needs more attention.

To keep a healthy work-life balance, make it a habit to regularly evaluate your current situation and adjust your routines according to what’s needed.

Is there a need to rethink your priorities? Are you able to delegate your workload effectively instead of doing it all by yourself? Do you give yourself enough time for leisure activities that make you happy or relaxed? These are just a few questions you can ask yourself when reflecting.

 

WORK WITH A COMPANY THAT ALLOWS YOU TO BALANCE PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL GROWTH

Here at DAVIS Companies, we provide the platform you need to hone your skills and achieve the most favorable work life. Should you need help in looking for a company that prioritizes your well-being and career, we are here at your service.

Being in the staffing industry since 1985, we assure you that we have the expertise to help you with your career journey.

Contact us today to start a conversation.

 

References: 

  1. Pega, Frank, et al. “Global, Regional, and National Burdens of Ischemic Heart Disease and Stroke Attributable to Exposure to Long Working Hours for 194 Countries, 2000–2016: A Systematic Analysis from the WHO/ILO Joint Estimates of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury.” Environment International, vol. Volume 154, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106595. Accessed 10 Jun. 2023.
  1. Lally, Phillippa, et al. “How Are Habits Formed: Modelling Habit Formation in the Real World.” European Journal of Social Psychology, vol. Volume 40, no. Issue 6, 2010, pp. 998-1009, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ejsp.674 . Accessed 10 Jun. 2023.

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