Are you working too hard?
[Time to read: 3 minutes]
…It’s a good question.
How do you really know when you are working too hard?
This problem has come up for me a few times over the years. To be honest, I found it difficult to become aware of when I was working too hard. For me, often I was too far into my work to realise that I was ‘burning the candle at both ends’ and was ‘burning myself out’!
So, what are the symptoms of working too hard?
In my case, I experienced lack of sleep, higher levels of stress and being more susceptible to ‘man flu’!
Below are other typical symptoms of working too hard, where you could be heading towards burn-out:
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of focus on tasks
- Poor quality sleep
Although these symptoms may seem minor, these can develop into more serious conditions such as very high stress, overwhelm, anxiety, physical & mental exhaustion and even depression.
What can you do to prevent burn-out?
One way is to check-in with yourself every day: Ask yourself “How am I?” – if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, you may be heading towards burn-out.
If this is the case, here is a 4-step strategy you can use to help:
1. Slow down
The chances are you are rushing around. Start by breathing slowly and deeply. The benefit of deep breathing should never be underestimated. Can you slow things down further by giving yourself more time to complete the tasks you are working on?
2. Use the 4 D’s of effective Time Management
You may have too many tasks. If you have, then it’s time to review the tasks you have and make a decision on what to do with each of them. The 4 D’s of effective Time Management will help you to evaluate the importance and urgency of each task and decide what to do. For each task decide to do one of the following:
- DO IT – if it’s important and urgent – then do it.
- DELETE IT – if it’s not important or urgent then consider declining or cancelling the task.
- DEFER IT – if it’s important but not urgent, consider deferring the task to a later date.
- DELEGATE IT – if you are still left with too many tasks, consider delegating the task to another team member, or ask your manager for assistance.
The decision on some of the tasks may need to be made by someone else in the business – if this is the case, ask them for assistance.
For more information on the 4 D’s CLICK HERE to read the Forbes article.
3. Focus – try to avoid multi-tasking – you may like to multi-task, but your brain doesn’t.
We’ve all tried it: texting while walking, sending emails during meetings, jumping from one task to another. Today, doing just one thing at a time is often seen as slow.
However, studies estimate that switching between tasks can cause a 40% loss in productivity. Multi-tasking can also cause you to introduce errors into whatever you’re working on, especially if one or more of your activities involves a lot of critical thinking.
So, avoid multi-tasking and be more productive by doing (and finishing) one thing at a time!
4. Look after yourself – Do something to look after your mental and physical health. Below are some options for you to consider:
- MEDITATION – meditating daily can significantly improve your well-being. Search for free guided meditations on YouTube or join a Yoga class.
- DRINK WATER – many people still don’t drink enough water. You may be de-hydrated. Being de-hydrated has a negative effect on your well-being. “In 2010, a report from The European Food Safety Authority suggested that the minimum levels of water consumption should be 2 litres for men and 1.6 litres for women, or between eight and ten glasses. For men, their daily requirement of two litres of water is equivalent to just over three and a half pints. For women, their recommended intake of 1.6 litres of water is the equivalent of just under three pints.” – CLICK HERE for the original article from the Independent.
- RESEARCH WELL-BEING STRATEGIES – Try searching on-line for ways you can improve your well-being. To start with you could download my free eBook ‘The Stress Management Guide for Business Leaders’. In this eBook I share my ‘7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier Business Life’, which provides some additional strategies on improving your well-being. CLICK HERE to download it.
- GET HELP – if you are still struggling then it may be time to seek help. Perhaps from your manager, friends, family or a professional such as a GP.
Working on a lower number of tasks can achieve more because the focus on each task is sharper and the output from this typically produces higher quality results. Combining this with checking in with yourself regularly and looking after yourself helps improve your performance with the business.
Ultimately working effectively, getting results and being healthy is a balance. It’s being aware of this that’s the key.
I hope you found this helpful.
If you did, please comment and share.
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