The world is experiencing a transition in ‘how it works’. While most people really got the hang of working from home during the pandemic, some others could not wait to get back to the office. Even though workations did make a considerable impact on a large number of millennials, they did disrupt the work-life balance for some. For those who may not understand, work-life balance doesn’t have to be limited to having workweeks and weekends. It goes beyond definitions, encompassing every working individual’s need to make time for their work and personal life efficiently and consciously – something the pandemic took away from many. Regardless of whether you go back to the office or stay remote, how do you know whether you are being overworked? Here are some signs to look out for:
Never feeling rested
This is one of the easiest indicators of having too much work on your plate. While feeling like your work is crawling into your dreams once in a while is okay and reflects your excitement, it cannot be a constant feeling. If you feel like you cannot ever really mentally ‘log out’ and have to always be on your toes for emails, updates, starting new tasks and so on, it can weigh down on your mental health. Relaxation acts as a catalyst for efficiency and is non-negotiable no matter how you choose to work. Some common jobs that could enable this state are those of healthcare professionals, social media managers/content strategists and even therapists/psychiatrists to some extent. Your relaxation could be affected because you have taken too much on your plate and can never make enough time to get tasks done.
Physical symptoms of being overworked
The human body is a great way to understand mental exhaustion through the many physical symptoms it throws your way. Excessive hair fall, irregular appetite, lack of sleep/restlessness, irregular/missed periods, and an overall feeling of weakness are some primary indicators. Psychological symptoms are almost always manifested into physical symptoms; keeping an eye out for the little things can go a long way in keeping you away from burnout.
Mental symptoms of being overworked
Overworking can lead to stress and consequent stress-related symptoms such as mood swings, brain fog, insomnia and even a lowered libido. If you are unable to get intimate because you are always too tired, distracted by work, stressed, moody and restless, it could be a sign that it’s time to take a step back. Deteriorating mental health and constant feelings of sadness, loss of interest, agitation, and frustration can be direct consequences of overworking.
Reduced quality of work
If you are someone who likes what they do and can proudly claim that they can do it well, then this one’s for you. A reduction in the quality of your work is a direct sign of being overworked and grey cells drained of their creative juices. Moreover, when you are tired you are more prone to making mistakes that could have been easily avoided. Not just that, exhaustion could make you take longer to do a task that you could have easily accomplished if you were rested. Microsoft switched to a 4-day workweek which showed a 40% boost in productivity. Work smart, not hard innit?
Your workweek is longer than 40 hours
In 1930, John Keyes predicted that in the next 100 years, people will be logging in 15-hour workweeks. Until that becomes a reality, you should not settle for anything more than working for 40 hours per week. The Sunday Scaries was a term coined to reflect the feeling of dread that accompanied the end of a weekend. This could be caused either by the never-ending workweek, your job description or your pay. A workweek that stretches into your weekend can be disastrous for your mental health and can lead to burnout.
You can never make time to catch up
Everyone has those exciting assignments that turn up once in a blue moon and take up all your time. While that can be a good indicator of job satisfaction, work that never lets you catch up is a big no. Family and friends are important and a good time with your loved ones can really help you relax and destress. Moreover, being unable to attend to friends and family can really cause guilt and anxiety to pile up, leading to more mental exhaustion. Your work shouldn’t take a toll on your interpersonal relationships as they are just as integral for a well-balanced life.
You are doing more than your job description
Once you are lost in the maze of an organisation, it is easy to blur lines around job descriptions. If you are doing more than what you were promised to be paid for, it’s time to ask why. It is very easy to take on the workload from other departments under the pretext of getting a promotion. However, it is important to identify your own limits and know where to draw the line. If you were expected to handle digital marketing and today you are somehow doing that and meddling in offline sales, then you need to take a step back. Most organisations thrive on employees who do more than they were expected to for the same pay. Learn to say no, because your mental health precedes that potential raise you may or may not get.
Are you feeling mentally exhausted? Are you not able to give your loved ones time anymore? Is it really worth the sacrifices? Questions like these can help you understand how to mitigate the crisis of being overworked. The consequences of overworking can take a massive toll on your life. The prolonged state of stress and anxiety can eventually lead to burnout – a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. Making small changes to prevent overworking can go a long way in preventing burnout recovery that can take years. The pandemic aired so much of the current work culture’s dirty laundry, which eventually turned into the Great Resignation. It’s time mental health, peace, satisfaction, contentment and periodic disengagement from work are prioritised as well.