Are You Working Too Much?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 0 comments

Our society idolizes the ability to do more. It uses to be “whoever has the most toys wins.” Although this is still the mindset of some people, now it’s more likely to be “whoever is the busiest wins.” Busyness is equated with productivity, so, in that sense, who wouldn’t want to be more productive with their time? We’re all given the same number of hours to work with every day, yet some people seem to accomplish so much more in those 24 hours than we can. It’s easy to look on with envy as our coworkers or friends juggle a demanding job, family life, volunteer work, hobbies, and a social life without seeming to miss a beat. But what appears to be a master juggling act isn’t always as healthy and admirable when you look under the surface.

While we’re all unique in the amount of demands and stresses we can handle (often based on factors we can’t even control, such as our genetics or upbringing), we each have a breaking point — the point at which the balls begin to fall, and our perfectly-balanced circus act falls apart.  You might think you’ll just ‘know’ when you’ve reached your limit: for instance, your calendar is full and you can’t possibly fit anything else in. The problem with this thinking is that you’ve probably already reached your actual limit, and are only one slip away from a meltdown, without even knowing it.  Maintaining this level is just not a good idea.  How do you know how busy is too busy for you? Where do you draw the line? While I can’t answer that for you, I can share some of the signs that might be indicating you’re dangerously close to overload.

Signs You’re Doing Too Much
There are certain telltale signs that are indicators you might be working too much and/or juggling too many after-work activities into your schedule. One of the biggest is fatigue and sickness. Your body (and your brain) need time to just relax, and if you’re not getting that, you’re going to start showing signs of fatigue. When your body is worn down from stress and lack of rest, you’re also the most vulnerable to sickness. Are you constantly sluggish and tired? Are you getting sick a lot? It could be a sign that you’re doing too much.

Another sign is a change in temperament. Much in the way that physical demands wear on your body, mental and emotional stress take a tole on your personality and demeanor. If you’re uncharacteristically curt or unpleasant to those around you, find yourself getting more impatient than usual, or exhibit other behavior that’s not ‘you’, take it as a sign that you might be doing too much, and need to scale back a little. Everyone has tense moments and acts differently when frustrated or under stress — the key is to look for instances when you’re irritable for no apparent reason.  This is something that doesn’t just affect you; in addition to affecting a possible promotion and your family life, this behavior hurts other people.

When you’re schedule is tight, you expect your brain to function optimally. By placing too many demands on your mental faculties, you may experience creative burn-out, difficultly thinking clearly, forgetfulness, and  problems concentrating. All of this effects your productivity, your job performance, and your ability to perform even routine tasks. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, decide what needs to go before your boss decides that you need to.

Quality Versus Quantity
Being productive is a good thing, but if your career and home life are suffering because you’re cramming too many things into your schedule, you’re sacrificing quality for quantity. Earning a few extra dollars of overtime isn’t worth the possible effects on your physical and mental health. Saying yes to every volunteer project could lead to burnout. Learn to read the signs your body is giving you, and find your personal balance.

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