Hard work is the basis for great achievements. But, it’s also possible to overdo it, threatening your productivity and your professional success.
Burnout poses a real threat to the career and overall quality of life of the modern hard-worker. Amidst the current professional culture of overwork, the pressure to do more in less time is ever-present.
But, you risk burnout when your workload, and the stresses it imposes, are left unchecked for too long. It’s important to strike the right balance.
If you’re worried you could be taking on too much, and that professional burnout could be just around the corner, it may be time to stop and evaluate your situation. Are you working too hard? There are some red flags:
1. You don’t manage the stress of the work as well as you used to
Researchers have found that people who are stressed to begin with have a harder time dealing with new stressors. So, if you find that you aren’t managing work-related stress quite as well as you used to, it could be a sign that you’re working a little too hard.
You should be able to ride the waves of your professional life with some degree of ease and resilience. If those qualities are starting to fade, it might be time to dial it back.
2. You feel increasingly isolated at work
Researchers have found that people are twice as likely to report feeling exhausted because of work as they were 20 years ago.
Feeling increasingly isolated or lonely at work is an early warning sign. The symptoms may appear whether or not the worker is actually more isolated. It turns out that there is a natural correlation between work exhaustion and loneliness.
People are twice as likely to report feeling exhausted because of work as they were 20 years ago.
3. Your attention to detail is starting to suffer
When you’re stressed and overworked, it’s hard to attend to the details. So, if you start to notice that you’re getting sloppy, it could be a warning sign that you’re taking on too much.
You don’t want the quality of your work to suffer. So, try to reduce your workload a little bit before this becomes a consistent pattern.
4. You’ve lost the ability to turn it off at the end of the day
Your job shouldn’t be all-consuming. If you think about work compulsively even when you aren’t there, you’re probably overworked. You should be able to have a nice dinner with your family or friends without ruminating on your job.
Similarly you should be able to sleep at night without waking up worried about work. If your job is starting to feel ever-present, even when you’re out of the office, you might want to think about scaling back the workload.
5. Your emotions and your work are inextricably linked
One of the telltale signs of overwork relates to how your job impacts you emotionally. If you find you’re only happy when things are going well at work and always sad and angry when there are struggles, you might be putting too much emphasis on your job.
What’s happening at work should not dictate your mood. Your job should just be one part of your life, not your everything.
It’s important to pay attention to signs of overwork before things get out of control. If you think you’ve been working too hard lately, try reducing your workload just a little and see if it makes a difference. This might mean discussing your to-do list with your boss, or keeping a time diary for a day or a week and making some changes on your own.
Remember that it’s in your employer’s best interest, as well as your own, for you to be productive — and that means working hard, but not too hard.
Tell Us What You Think
Do you think you’ve been working too hard? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.