Last week was a significant milestone in my life: it was my 30th birthday. But you were a no-show for my big birthday party at the club. As a matter of fact, you have missed a lot of momentous occasions; and you have become a real “stick in the mud” since you started that new job six months ago.
Do you remember Candy’s bridal shower and wedding ceremony in March? You said that you were unable to attend because you were overwhelmed with work. And Candy is one of your oldest and best friends. I am sure that she was really hurt that you chose work over celebrating a very special day with friends and family.
So here it is: you are working too hard and too much.
But you are not alone. According to a new survey, it’s a serious problem in the U.S. The question is: what’s more important work or life?
I know that it can be extremely difficult when starting a new job. In fact, Michael D. Watkins, the co-founder of Genesis Advisers and author of “The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter,” told Forbes that “impressing” your new boss and co-workers within the first 90 days is not only important to your success in your current position; but also for your overall career. But it has been six months.
I want you to think about your work life, and your family life, and decide which is important to you,” The Washington Post reporter, Christopher Ingraham wrote. “I’ll never forget those words, coming at the end of a lengthy exegesis on the virtues of long hours from an old boss.”
Ingraham had decided to get another job after working long hours for almost a year. But it wasn’t because he didn’t like the job; it was because he valued time with family and friends more. Ingraham also agreed with the over 70 percent of U.S. workers who say that family is more important than work, according to a 2014 Allstate/National Journal poll.
But many U.S. workers are willing to make sacrifices for their jobs,” Ingraham added.
So how many hours are these overachievers working? According to Gallup’s Work and Education poll, full-time U.S. adults report working an average of over 45 hours per week, while half of all full-time workers said that they usually work more than 40 hours, and almost four in 10 say they work at least 50 hours.
And like you, more than a quarter of Americans said they have neglected important family events because they couldn’t get time off from work. Gallup’s workplace poll, which included responses from 1,271 full-time adult workers, also found that 15 percent of U.S. workers have worked different hours than their spouse when they couldn’t get child care, and 14 percent say they’ve been "punished" for calling in sick.
More to the point for employers that promote long hours, there’s ample evidence that those long hours erode worker health and productivity,” said Ingraham.
In other words, you could end up getting sick from working too much. Ingraham cited a 2004 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis that found "overtime was associated with poorer perceived general health, increased injury rates, more illnesses, or increased mortality." And the fact of the matter is that you are not getting a whole lot accomplished by working those long hours. According to a 2014 Stanford study, after approximately 55 hours of work during one week, productivity gains stop completely.
Any work you could do in 70 hours -- or 100 -- you could also get done in 55,” said Ingraham. “Existing on little sleep and ultra-long is the stuff of lore in corporate America.”
So how do you balance work with life?
One thing that you can do is learn to say “NO”. Another option, according to Forbes, is to ask your boss if telecommuting is an option. The trick, says Forbes, is to “approach it from a position of strength”.
Forbes also recommends that you say something like this: “I like my job, and feel that I’m an asset. I’d like to talk about ways I can make my work here as productive as possible. I’m in a not-so-unique situation of caring for my elderly parents (or whatever your situation may be), and working from home once or twice a week would give me much-needed extra time. I believe I’d be able to give you better work, since I’d be less distracted.”
Just remember that you are one of the company’s best and most dedicated employees. So don’t be afraid to fight for your life. After all, we miss you!