It’s an hour past dinnertime, and you’re still sitting at your desk. Most of your coworkers are gone. You’re still toiling away, answering emails and tweaking projects. If this sounds like you, that’s a great sign you’re taking on too much work. Maybe you’re so used to this scenario that it just feels like the norm at this point — but it shouldn’t be, and here’s why.
The Drawbacks of Overdoing It
Being a hard worker can be an admirable trait, but sometimes, even workaholics have to take a breather. Here are some of the drawbacks if you don’t:
When you’re overwhelmed with too much work, it becomes impossible to do your job well. You might think that burning the midnight oil is the only way to keep up, but actually, you’re probably just creeping ever closer to burnout. Once you reach that breaking point, your productivity plummets. So instead of getting more done by putting in extra hours, you’re probably robbing yourself of a more productive nine-to-five when you overwork.
Part of a healthy work-life means also having a healthy non-work life. This means enjoying relationships with friends and family, nurturing hobbies and carving out some time to simply have fun and relax. This is how you recharge and get ready for another day at the office. When you have too much work and don’t have enough time to regroup, your productivity, once again, suffers. So you’re not doing yourself any favors by choosing a late night at the office over a dinner out with friends.
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How to Regain Control
What happens when you realize you have too much work? Is there any turning back? Fortunately, the answer is yes. Here’s what you can do:
1. Admit the Problem
When some people become overloaded with tasks, they pretend it’s not a problem. They never complain, and they never argue. They simply suffer in silence.
This isn’t a helpful approach. The only way to get back on the right track with your work-life balance is to recognize you’re a workaholic. Once you do, you can begin to take productive steps toward making a change.
2. Say No
Now that you’ve admitted you may be a bit stressed out, here’s the first thing to do: Start saying no to things. Ask if a coworker can cover a meeting for you. Rebuff an unreasonable favor asked of you by a family member. Tell your boss you’re not available to work late this Friday night.
There’s no shame in setting strict boundaries for your work life and your personal life. It’ll just help you to create more time for the things that matter most, like self-care and relationships.
3. Ask for Help
Don’t stop at just saying no. Explain to those you’re saying no to that there’s a reason for it. Express to your boss or supervisor that you feel like you’re falling behind, and maybe you need more training — or some extra support — to carry out your duties.
Confide in friends and family who can help to shoulder the burden of any personal commitments. Look for folks who are open to helping and find constructive ways they can pitch in.
Sometimes it’s not specifically the issue of your workload, but rather the way you’re managing it. Look at your daily routine and see if you can come up with ways to prioritize more important tasks and handle your time more effectively.
This might be another instance in which you can ask a higher-up or a coworker for help. Chances are those who have gone before you have encountered the same problems and devised ways to circumvent them.
Almost everyone will encounter an exhausting workload at some point in their professional life, but it’s not something you have to simply accept. There are ways you can alleviate the stress and decrease the amount of work to enjoy a balanced life. Make use of some of these coping techniques the next time you’re feeling stressed at the office.
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