You may have the mindset that working hard will get you ahead, and that is true to a point. However, it’s also easy to take things too far and not have a healthy balance between work and free time. Am I working too much? How much is too much?
If you’re wondering, “Am I working too much?” looking at what doctors and scientists say helps you see how much you should be working. Working in a high-demand job where you have little control increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 45 percent, and the risk of other illnesses, such as heart disease, as well.
Creating a work-life balance is important because it impacts your well-being on many levels, including emotional, psychological and physical. When your answer to the question, “Am I working too much?” is yes, there are some specific things you can do to keep family relationships strong and make a life for yourself outside work.
1. Use Your Paid Time Off (PTO)
Most companies offer PTO in the form of vacation days, sick days and holidays. That time is meant for you to create that healthy work-life balance.
Employers know failure to take time off leads to burnout and dissatisfied employees. However, some employers also roll those days over to another year or pay out for those you haven’t used at the end of the year.
Sadly, more than half of Americans failed to take all their vacation days in 2016. Don’t add to that statistic — if you have time, use it.
2. Create Rules for Your Work Day
If your child has soccer practice every night at 6 p.m. and you promised you’d be there, don’t linger at your desk every day until 6:30.
Instead, set a firm rule that you leave work by a set time and return to whatever task you’re on either later that night or the next day. If you don’t stick to some strict rules for yourself, it is very easy to look up and realize you’ve worked a 15-hour day.
3. Reduce Stress
Find times during the workday to reduce your levels of stress. Some jobs are more stressful than others, but too much adrenaline in your system increases your blood pressure and may damage your heart over time.
If you’re facing a particularly stressful time at work, take a short break and go for a walk or do some deep breathing exercises. Step away from the stress for a bit.
4. Ask for Help
If you’re a go-getter, asking for help may be difficult for you. After all, no one else is going to complete the work the way you would. However, when work becomes overwhelming, you may need to delegate some smaller tasks to an assistant or a co-worker.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Everyone deserves a little time to themselves, and it doesn’t benefit you or your employer to work yourself into the grave.
5. Make Work Topics off Limits
When you’re away from work, do you still talk about work and worry about projects that are due? Make it a rule that when you aren’t at work, you don’t talk about work unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Allow your mind to focus on other topics and be present in the moment with family and friends, rather than off in La-La Land and thinking about work topics.
6. Set Strict Phone Policies
Unless it is a dire emergency that could shut the entire company down, your employer shouldn’t call you all hours of the day and night. Some people make themselves so available their employer feels it’s OK to call at 3 a.m. to ask a question. Put your cell phone on “do not disturb” and get the rest your body needs and deserves.
Making You a Priority
Take time to focus on your health and make yourself and your family a priority. While it is excellent to get ahead in your career, and you should do the best work possible for your employer, if you don’t take care of your mental and physical well-being, you won’t be able to perform to the best of your ability in the long term.
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