Do you check your emails constantly after your work day is done? Do you spend late nights getting a jump start on the next day’s workload? Do you avoid taking vacation days or sick days because you feel you’ll fall too far behind in your projects?
You’re not alone. The average American worker has a 47-hour work week, which equivocates to about 9.4 hours per day for a 5-day week. Furthermore, an alarming 24% of Americans report that they haven’t taken a day off in more than a year, despite an increase in overall vacation days taken in the US. If you’re one of those people, consider how overworking can be detrimental to both your career and your health.
Everyone Needs Sleep.
This might be an obvious statement, but over 79 percent of Americans don’t get enough sleep. This can come from a variety of factors, but if you’re choosing to spend your personal time cranking away at the next day’s workload, or even just checking your email before you go to bed, your productivity the next morning is going to plummet.
According to the Harvard Business Review, only 1-3% of Americans can function on 5-6 hours of sleep without a hit to their performance. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep to function at their best. If you’re functioning at your best, your productivity is going to increase, and if your productivity increases, you’ll find that your workload becomes much more manageable.
Are you too stressed to sleep? Try a meditation podcast, or practice relaxation techniques to help you unwind.
Personal Time is Just As Important as Work Time.
Those Americans who haven’t taken a day off in more than a year are more likely to suffer from burnout. If you burn out, your productivity comes to a halt. Your boss or clients will be upset, because your product or service isn’t ready in time, and you’ll feel stressed, uninspired, and unmotivated.
The key to overcoming burnout is taking time to recharge. That means actually using your vacation days – they were given to you for a reason! Employers allot vacation days because they know their employees need to take personal time in order to be their best selves. You may feel guilty about leaving your coworkers with tasks that need to get done, but don’t be. The office will not burn down just because one person took some time for self-care.
Taking time for yourself also allows for an incredibly important aspect of self-care: reflection. When your mind is clear of daily workplace stress, you can evaluate your current status in life and decide whether any changes need to be made to improve it.
You’re Not Actually Getting More Work Done, or Earning More Money.
Overtime checks can seek pretty tempting, but they’re not worth it if you consider the cost of the consequences.
Overworking is linked to many serious health problems, including increasing the rates for heart disease by 60% for white collar workers. In addition, studies have found correlations between overworking and larger drinking habits, as well as depressive episodes. Ask yourself: Is it worth it to earn time and a half if you’re spending that extra money on medical bills related to heart disease, drinking, or depression? Probably not. Employers would rather you work normal hours consistently than have you work overtime and then have to take off because of medical concerns.
Few people go into a new job planning on working overtime consistently. But for those of you finding yourself spending every spare moment working or thinking about work, do yourself a favor – don’t open your emails on the weekends, and take your vacation days allotted to you. Your friends, family, and your health will thank you.