Working at Night is for Racoons!

If you’re packing your computer or briefcase and lugging it home to do more work most days you gotta ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” When you’re sitting in front of the keyboard writing an email to someone at the office at midnight would your friends ask, “Aren’t there other things you’d rather be doing?” When you get your paycheck do you think, “I sure get paid well, that’s why I work all the time!” (I won’t even delve into you being hunched over your crackberry during meals, meetings, and otherwise merry-making time.)

You are not really wired for working day and night. Raccoons are nocturnal, lions are nocturnal, and bats are nocturnal. Humans are not nocturnal. Those animals have special accommodations for functioning optimally in the dark – their hearing is enhanced, their eye sight is developed for low light situations (in fact, they don’t like daylight), and they sleep during the day so they’re rested and ready for their evening forays. You, however, have been designed for daylight activity. You are meant to get up with the sun and do your work while it shines. You eyes work best in daylight. Your energy ramps up after you break fast (you do eat breakfast, don’t you!?). You can best take care of your basic needs during the day – get food and maintain shelter.

Results of night time and usually overworking are:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Disconnection from family and friends
  • Waste of time, energy, money, resources
  • Loneliness
  • Failure to achieve your goals as an employee, business owner, parent, partner, spiritual being, or other important area
  • Stress
  • Resentment of the unending demands
  • Sickness. The NIH (National Health Institute) points as stress as the #1 contributor to sickness.

Signals of night-time working mentioned above could be the result of some of these actions:

  • You don’t negotiate ‘No’ as in , “No I couldn’t get that done by the deadline without missing other deadlines I’m committed to making.”
  • You engage in long conversations with colleagues rather than keeping it brief
  • You treat all work as equal rather than selecting the truly impactful and meaningful assignments
  • You do more of what you enjoy than what advances your career
  • You need an assistant and have the okay to hire one but don’t take the time to find him
  • Your boss rarely gives you recognition for a job well done
  • You have a lousy time when you get home so you burrow in to work rather than go ‘there’

If this describes you at all you can flip things around and contain work within work hours. To put it right out here in black in white rather than hope you’ll take the time to extrapolate some of the solutions here are some steps to take:

  • Turn your crackberry off after a fixed hour. To be polite record a message informing callers that you’re putting boundaries around your work and will get back to them during the next morning.
  • Do not bring your computer home or login to work on your computer at home.
  • Curtail time consuming and unproductive activities at work.
  • Make and honor commitments with people outside work. Take your spouse on a date once a week, schedule time with a trainer, make the evening run, ride or racquetball game with your club, attend the kids’ games at least once a week, and volunteer nearby.
  • Go to bed 7.5 hours before you want to get up.
  • Get up with an hour to get ready for the day. Eat well, shower, dress, and take time to chat with someone
  • Limit the time you spend in front of a screen (of any connection – game, Internet, etc).
  • Examine your work with the 80/20 rule in mind. 80% of your reward will come from 20% of the projects you’re asked to do so spend 80% of your time on the 20% with big payoff

Those are some observations from my desk — what do you see from yours with regard to leaving work at work?

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