Tips for preventing overworking and improving your work-life balance

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In many cases, your employees may be working longer hours because of company culture, influence from upper management, uneven distribution of workloads or personal time management. As a manager or leader within your company, it’s important to create a culture that doesn’t pressure employees into overworking or always checking their emails, writes

With 20% of men and 7% of women in Australia working more than 50 hours a week, it’s no surprise that most of us are overworking ourselves. Now, with millions working from home as a result of current global events, the line separating our work life from our personal life is becoming increasingly blurred, with many of us prone to working longer hours and taking fewer breaks when at home.

But, does working longer hours and always checking your emails actually help improve your productivity, or are there some negative, short-term impacts that you should be aware of?

What are the impacts of overworking?
Unfortunately, despite most of us thinking that working longer hours will directly result in increased productivity, studies show that working more than 40 hours a week can actually reduce your productivity. What’s more, overworking can also have negative effects on your health such as increasing your anxiety, stress, and chances of heart disease and depression. So, while you may experience some short-term gains in your job by working more hours, the long-term impacts to your health and career could be detrimental.

If you want your employees to use their annual leave, then you should also take time off work every now and then. Your employees will feel more comfortable not overworking if they see their manager also has a good work-life balance.

Here’s how to prevent your employees from overworking
In many cases, your employees may be working longer hours because of company culture, influence from upper management, uneven distribution of workloads or personal time management. As a manager or leader within your company, it’s important to create a culture that doesn’t pressure employees into overworking or always checking their emails. To help bring back work-life balance to your team or organisation, here are three tips you can implement:

  • Limit communication outside of working hours. As much as possible, try not to send any sort of communications to your employees outside of working hours—unless it’s an emergency. When you send a message to your employee after working hours, they may feel pressured to reply immediately in order to give a good impression. Where possible, keep communication within your employees’ working hours.
  • Give your employees the opportunity to do their work. Some people may feel pressured to work late on days when most of their time was spent in meetings. While of course it’s not possible to completely avoid meetings, it’s also important to try to limit the number of meetings you book in your employees’ calendars. So before setting up one, ask yourself if the meeting can be accomplished via an email or a quick chat instead. By giving your employees the opportunity to get their work done during work hours, you can help prevent overworking.
  • Set an example for your employees. If you want your employees to switch off during their weekends, then it’s important that you also not answer emails over the weekend. If you want your employees to use their annual leave, then you should also take time off work every now and then. Your employees will feel more comfortable not overworking if they see their manager also has a good work-life balance.

While it may seem like we always need to be switched on in order to excel in our careers, there’s no doubt that taking time off and improving your work-life balance is crucial for your health, particularly in these challenging times.

Here’s what you can do to keep yourself from overworking
If you find yourself often working longer hours, here are some tips on how to take a step back and improve your work-life balance.

  • Set expectations with your manager and colleagues. If you’re answering emails and chats regularly after work hours, then you may be setting the wrong expectation with your manager or colleagues. Set boundaries with your team by telling them what time your working hours are and asking them to communicate with you during those times. If you do get messages outside of work hours, try not to respond to them so you’re setting proper expectations with your team.
  • Make a to-do list and accomplish the big tasks first. Completing your most important tasks at the beginning of the day can help you leave work at a reasonable hour. Make a to-do list every day and try to knock off the biggest tasks first. That way if you have anything left on your list at the end of the day, it won’t be anything crucial that can’t wait until the next day.
  • Are all your meetings necessary? If you find most of your days are spent in meetings instead of doing your work, then it may be time to re-evaluate which meetings in your calendar are absolutely necessary, and which ones can be accomplished with an email instead. Cutting back on some meetings that you may not necessarily need to be in can be a great way to make time for yourself and improve your productivity.

Now, with millions working from home as a result of current global events, the line separating our work life from our personal life is becoming increasingly blurred, with many of us prone to working longer hours and taking fewer breaks when at home.

While it may seem like we always need to be switched on in order to excel in our careers, there’s no doubt that taking time off and improving your work-life balance is crucial for your health, particularly in these challenging times. With these tips, you can not only improve your (or your employees’) productivity, but also have a happier, healthier, and more rewarding personal and professional life.

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