Whether it’s to catch up on work or to get a headstart on a new project, we’ve all found ourselves glued to our desks a little longer than necessary at some point. But pushing yourself too hard and neglecting your work-life balance is the quickest way to burnout. This can have a detrimental effect on the quality of your work and lead to serious health issues.
We recently conducted a survey to understand the work patterns of the British public and how often people work overtime. To our surprise, we discovered that nearly 1 in 10 UK employees work more than 20 hours of overtime a week.
If you think you’re spending too long at your desk, we’ve created a list of 8 helpful tips that could help you break your addiction to work.
1. Redefine success
Professional achievements are something that many of us strive for, but success shouldn’t just be about how well you perform in your role. By defining your self-worth solely on your paycheck and prestige, you could be missing out on many positive opportunities for personal development.
Think about your time in the office: do you take time to get to know your colleagues and join in or do you isolate yourself from team activities? What personal attributes do you bring to your workplace? How would your colleagues describe you?
We spend so much time at work; it’s important that we’re happy when we’re there.
A huge part of this happiness comes from getting involved. Involvement could be a charitable event, a team building exercise or even an opportunity to mentor younger team members. Whatever it is, taking part is a great way to develop new skills and make a difference.
2. Find a healthy work-life balance
Our lives are generally split into two categories: work life and home life. Finding the right balance is key to preventing work addiction. Refusing to leave the office until the job is done may help you hit a deadline, but if you can’t unwind properly after a long day at your desk, you’ll feel overworked and unfocused the next day.
By giving your family, relationships, physical health and mental health as much attention and dedication as your work life, you’ll find yourself living a happier, more balanced life. Workaholism may help you become a success in business, but it can play havoc with other aspects of your life.
3. Speak up
Your work-life balance may feel like a personal issue, but it doesn’t mean you need to go it alone. Communicating any concerns with your manager is a very healthy way to move forward when you’re feeling overwhelmed. After all, if your manager is unaware that you’re always the first one to enter the office and the last one to leave, they can’t do anything to help the situation.
Speak to your manager if you’re struggling to balance your time and see if they can help you to prioritise your workload and get back on top of things. By being realistic about your situation and proactive in your efforts to find a solution around any workload issues, you’ll be able to alleviate feelings of stress.
4. Take breaks
When you’re struggling with a project, it can be tempting to want to skip a break or work through your lunch. By struggling through, you’re only making life harder for yourself, which leads to more stress and panic. Taking regular breaks is crucial to your productivity, so listen to your body and your brain will thank you for it.
In fact, a study from the New York Times shows that taking a five-minute walk away from your desk every hour can help to keep you focused and re-energised – this can be as simple as heading to the breakroom for a cup of tea or a coffee.
5. Switch off from the office
A classic symptom of work addiction is being unable to switch off from the office when you’re at home. Out-of-hours work emails and team WhatsApp messages make it difficult to truly relax, as you could be interrupted at any moment with a business query.
Not only does the fear of your phone buzzing prevent you from unwinding, but studies show that they also diminish the quality of your conversations. By expecting your phone to go off at any minute, your conversations become more shallow and easily interrupted.
Take a leaf out of France’s book. The government of France recently made it illegal to send work-related emails over the weekend.Unless you are contractually obligated to respond to emails in your free time, put conversations on mute.
6. Make plans for your free time
If your professional work constantly eats into your personal life, plan your evenings and weekends in advance. By committing to events ahead of time, you’ll have an excuse for leaving the office on time.
This will not only give you something fun to look forward to ahead of time, but planning activities with friends and family also means that you’re accountable if you cancel – giving you even more of a reason to get out of the office at the end of the day.
7. Be self-nurturing
One of the most common causes of work addiction is being highly self-critical. If you find that you’re working harder and longer as a way to prove your worth, it’s time to reassess how you measure your performance.
Speak to your manager and ask for some constructive feedback. Even some 360 feedback from people you respect in the office can be helpful, as their comments could help you identify areas of improvement that you can focus on.
Also, you should take some time at the end of the day or week to reflect on the good work you’ve done and the results you’ve delivered. If there’s something you feel like you need to improve on, you can set that as an aim to achieve over the coming weeks.
Meeting your own goals can give you an enormous sense of pride.
8. Look after your health
When you’re working hard to ensure you’re getting your work done, the last thing on your mind will be heading to the gym. However, much like getting enough rest, keeping fit and healthy is crucial to your productivity and focus.
Something as simple as taking a healthy homemade lunch to work instead of grabbing greasy fast food or going for a walk on your break can help boost those positive endorphins so you feel ready and energised to work.