Why You Need To Stop Working Long Hours

01/16/2017 04:57 am ET Updated Jan 17, 2017

A friend of mine once posted on Facebook that if you are not working 18 hours or more a day on your business, then you are not working hard enough. This generated a lot of heated argument on the comment section of the post, and it inspired me to write this article.

The usual argument in support of working longer hours is that you will be able to get a lot more done than people who work less. It’s also believed that you will make more money and you will be recognized by your bosses and those around you as being very hard-working.

This could be true on face value, but when thoroughly investigated, you will understand that you will lose more in the long run.

In my long experience as a freelancer and business owner, I have discovered that working longer hours every day doesn’t always guarantee success in your business. The long-term negative effects far outweigh the short term gains you feel you are enjoying by working longer hours.

Here are three reasons why you should stop killing yourself in the name of working long hours and what you should start doing to get more done without over-stretching your working hours:

YOUR PRODUCTIVITY DECLINES

This contradicts the general belief that working longer hours increases your productivity. We are human beings and not machines, and so there is a limit to the mental stress our brain can handle within a specified time. If you exceed this limit, then your productivity will start to decline.

At that moment, you will see yourself spending one to two hours on a job that should normally take you thirty minutes. This will continue to decline till you become totally fagged out and unable to do any single task again.

What you don’t know is that the 80/20 rule also applies when it comes to being productive: you do 80 percent of the tasks you have within 20 percent of the time you have. This means that we have our peak period where our productivity is at its best.

The smart thing to do is to make sure you carry out those important tasks within your peak period and then handle the less important ones within your off-peak period. That way, you will get more done in less time and have a lot of time on your hand to relax and rejuvenate your brain so it can continue to perform optimally.

YOUR HEALTH COULD BE JEOPARDIZED

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is a popular saying that holds true till date. Your body, just like a car, requires refueling and servicing to be able to keep working optimally.

The refueling and servicing for your human body includes food, rest, exercise and sleep. When you are so overworked that you can’t find time to refuel and service your body system, then you are calling for breakdown of which you know the implication.

According to research led by scientists at University College London, those who work longer than 55 hours per week have a 33 percent more susceptibility to stroke, compared to those who work between 35-40 hours per week. Aside stroke, there are so many other health implications of working long hours every day without finding time to relax and rest. These include: sleep debt, diabetes, heart diseases and obesity.

When these health conditions surface, you will be forced to stop every form of work you are doing for a very long period so that you can concentrate on your health. At this point, money will seize to flow in and you will spend the ones you have already earned on trying to sort your health issues.

In my case, I have had to close work for a period of up to one month as advised by my doctor, due to overworking. When I was certified fit to resume work, nobody had to advise me to adjust my work period; I had to do it myself for my own sake.

YOUR RELATIONSHIP WILL SUFFER

Relationship is important no matter how you twist it. If you don’t have time for your family and friends just because you are too busy with work, it will lead to a strained relationship.

Except you have no conscience, having problems in your relationship, especially your family, can lead you to emotional turbulence that will prevent you from concentrating at work and giving your best.

Of course, when you can’t concentrate at work, your productivity will be at its lowest and no matter how long you spend on your work desk, you will achieve almost nothing.

Aside its effects on your work pace, your children might begin to underperform academically and behaviorally if you can’t devote time to teach and help them do their assignments. This was proven by a study carried out by the Sloan Work and Family Research Network of the Boston College. According to the study, 66 percent of parents who overwork have their children experiencing academic and behavioral difficulties at school.

If you devote time for your family and your social life, you will enjoy more peace of mind which is a prerequisite for being more productive at work. It will also help your children to perform optimally too.

MY ADVICE

Working long hours occasionally is not bad, especially when you have urgent tasks you have to complete. The problem is when it becomes a daily routine for you.

If your reason for overworking yourself is to make more money or to pride yourself as being a hardworking fellow, then you need to call yourself to order.

Working longer hours doesn’t always translate to being more productive and successful. The long term consequence might be costlier than the short term gain you might enjoy.

The best way to maximize your output is to find the time of the day when you work best and do most of your important tasks then. Always find time to eat, sleep and relax with family friends. That way, your body and most importantly, your brain can stay healthy and active at all times so you can always be productive.

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