You may be burned out, overworked, over-stressed, or just overwhelmed. But, you’re also not alone.
A Harvard Business School survey determined that the majority of working professionals give more than 50 hours per week to their jobs. The standard 40-hour workweek was first popularized in the mid-1920s by the Ford Motor Company. A novelty of industrial-age innovation, this once revolutionary idea observed that more hours worked does not actually yield greater productivity.
Since then, there have been numerous studies that suggest the same conclusion. In fact, many of us are aware of this on a much smaller scale. When immersed in a project or work routine while under stress, our minds become a chaotic whirlwind of thoughts as we try to find enough clarity to solve the problem at hand. Then, we take a break, go outside and go for a walk. We take a few hours or a day away—only to suddenly have the solution dawn on us in a moment of unexpected brilliance. The proverbial “Aha!” moment.
Thus have we, ourselves, experienced the simple truth that overworking hasn’t made us more productive–rather it was time away from work that resulted in productivity. Ironic? Maybe. Amusing? Definitely. But, more importantly–encouraging! In her TED Talk, Patty McCord, known for her work in shaping employee culture at Netflix, identifies 4 lessons the pandemic taught us about work, life and balance. McCord similarly emphasizes that overworking isn’t how we should be measuring productivity. Instead, productivity is measured by results.
Work-life balance might seem conceptually sensical but yet we often deny ourselves its positive effects. Balance does not come at as great a cost as we might imagine. It is not some illusory ideal beyond our grasp. In fact, it’s achievable every day, so long as we remain conscious of our wellbeing.
Mental Health America offers a number of suggestions on how to practice work-life balance. Ultimately, it all comes down to giving ourselves a break. Take a step away and treat yourself with kindness. Arrange daily goals to allow for it and schedule periodic moments for reflection or meditation. Plan for it by distancing yourself from work when off the clock to allow your brain to rest. Be flexible. We aren’t machines. We’re humans. Remember to relax, you’ve got this. Prioritize yourself.
“Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance.”
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