Everyone’s at it, you know. Working overtime for more hours than are healthy, sacrificing the time you really want to relax and enjoy life in for an extra bit of heft in your monthly paycheck. As a generation, we’re all working too hard, and this is a real problem. This is not an endorsement of slacking off by any means; but working to excess, to the point of physical, mental, psychological and spiritual exhaustion, all in the name of elusive praise, stubborn pride, or that all-important money, is not healthy.

With more people than ever reporting work burnout and finding themselves disenchanted with their jobs – which they’d previously found enjoyable and fulfilling – it seems that our Western culture of making everything quicker, faster, and more demanding is taking its toll on our lives.

So, if you’re sliding down that slippery slope and working too hard, you may need to apologize for these seven things:

1. You’re be damaging your relationship.

One of the most destructive things that working too hard can do is ruin your relationship. Spending endless hours at the office or on conference calls drains away time and energy that could be better spent celebrating your bond with the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with. Too many relationships have ended due to work commitments that could have been reduced if not for a culture of competition and reckless devotion to the world of work.

One of the simplest ways to help keep a relationship a top priority is to make a recurring date night. It doesn’t have to be every Thursday night at the same place at the same time, but by devoting a solid amount of time where the rest of the world is of no concern, you’ll help keep your relationship happy and thriving.

2. Your loved ones need more of your time.

The true heart of your life should always be yourself and your loved ones, be they friends or family. Working too hard can severely deplete your energy, leaving none left for those you hold dear. Simply put: working too hard will damage your children, friends and spouse.

Carving out chunks of time for your family in a hectic work schedule may seem like a daunting feat, but when managed right, it can help balance out the demands of living in an increasingly hectic 21st-century life. Make sure you all eat together at least two nights a week. Also, make commitments with friends to catch up and enjoy each other’s company.

3. You’re neglecting your duties at home.

If you’re working too hard, your home can fall apart without you even realizing it. Coming home to a place that is smelly, cluttered, and full of trash and discarded clothes cannot be beneficial to your mental health.

So take time off if you need to, or cut back on unnecessary commitments so that you can get your house in order. Spend a weekend doing the laundry, vacuuming, cleaning and doing all that necessary stuff that makes the space where you eat, sleep and relax both habitable and enjoyable. Working too hard isn’t an excuse for getting your home environment into a toxic state, and the sooner you clear the dishes, change the sheets and sort the clutter, the sooner you’ll be feeling the positive benefits.

4. You’re focusing too much on money.

It’s symptomatic of the 21st-century way of living, but too much of peoples’ lives these days focuses on money, money, money. While I’m certainly not advocating giving up your worldly possessions, everyone could do with giving up their fixed gaze upon money.

The best way to focus on the bigger picture here is to imagine time as a currency – you have no idea how much you have, but every day you lose a little chunk of it, like someone slowly draining away pennies and dollars from your savings account, and you can’t stop it. What do you do? If you keep treating money like the most important thing in the world, hoarding money like a Dickensian villain will only make you lose the things that are truly important in life: love, family, relationships, your creativity and your spirituality. For an immediate transformation, go and volunteer with a local charity and see how giving your time to help those less fortunate stacks up against working too hard so you can keep on keeping up with the Joneses.

5. You’re losing your sense of fun.

Life is meant to be fun, isn’t it? Maybe not all the time; there are always jobs to be done, but working too hard can rob your sense of unbridled fun, something that should never be allowed to happen. Denying yourself of activities that give you a childlike sense of wonder, exuberance and joie de vivre is detrimental to your overall mental health and well-being. Everyone needs downtime.

So go and enjoy whatever it makes you happy: fantasy football, hiking, reading comics, spending time with your friends, family or pets. Make yourself set clear boundaries between your work life and your home life. This helps to establish that your work is not the central focus of your entire life, and that it does not infringe on your leisure time. After all, we’re only here for a little while on this planet – what are the chances that not having enough fun might be on your list of regrets?

6. Your work-life balance is suffering.

The work-life balance is something that people have struggled with for years, and it is hard as heck to juggle everything that life seems to want to throw at us. Work commitments, family commitments, friend commitments, the list goes on. Working too hard means that whatever kind of balance you’ve established for yourself can become unraveled, negatively impacting your physical, mental, and spiritual health.

The key to this? Focus on your schedule and try and make sure that your boundaries are maintained. Don’t answer non-vital emails when you’ve gone home for the day, or work when you’re not in the office or on their time. Your life is your own for a reason, and giving it up for a company is a big waste.

7. You’re living to work… rather than working to live.

The final reason you should give up working too hard at the expense of everything else in life is simply that when it boils down to it, you are living to work, rather than working to live. Even if you love your job – which we ideally all should – there needs to be a point where the money helps us fulfill other meaningful aspects of our lives.

Life is not about the hours you put in at the office or promotions. Earning money helps us provide our lives with the means of doing what we want to do, but if we’re spending all of our time working on getting the money and the means, we won’t have time to actually do what is important. Imagine missing your child’s college graduation because you were too focused on a project to take the time off, or ducking out of a wedding in order to answer emails. It doesn’t sound good, does it?

You only get one shot at life. What will you regret more – not working hard enough to get more money, or not realising that what makes a person truly rich are your family, friends and loved ones, and how you choose to spend your precious time with them?

Featured photo credit: camknows via flickr.com

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