overworked clerkIn some industries, overwork is considered not only normal but desirable. Wall Street analysts, doctors and lawyers are notorious for working ridiculous hours in return for equally ridiculous salaries. Eighty-hour, even hundred-hour work weeks are not uncommon – and incredibly stupid.

That’s an idiotic trend that has unfortunately spread like a disease to other industries. People feel like they need to be on call 24/7, connected by the umbilical cords of cell phones and email. In our instant-gratification world, you might think that you have no choice in the matter. If you don’t produce results, somebody else will get the job. Boundaries are being blurred, and life suffers.

And ironically, productivity goes down – after all, you cannot expect your brain or your body to function optimally, with the required focus and concentration, for long periods without breaks. Back before connectivity, people would go home and leave their work at their job. Not anymore. Especially in industries where billable hours drive business (such as law), quality inevitably declines with overwork.

Although overwork has become synonymous with prosperity and success, if you really want to get the most out of your life, STOP doing that. If you’re an employee who is expected to be available at the company’s whim anytime, change jobs. It’s not worth it. Think about your deathbed for a moment (sorry, grim reminder) – looking back at your life, were all those interruptions in family time worth it?

Simply put, the longer you work, the less efficient and effective you become. Mistakes mount up quickly, burnout becomes almost inevitable, and you are left with a nice fat paycheck and a completely empty life.

So no matter what you’re doing, focus on quality, not quantity. Create action plans to be sure you’re following the 80/20 rule where 80% of your results come from the critical 20% of your actions.

If your industry demands this kind of life-sucking sacrifice from you, and you are not truly madly in love with what you do (to the point that you choose to do it every day, all day) then ask yourself, is this worth it? Would you be better off choosing an industry that is more suited to a well-rounded life – and still makes buckets of money?

If you’re an entrepreneur, delegate. It’s cheaper in the long run to hire help than it is to run yourself into the ground and lose your zest for living.

In short – work smarter, not harder.


Inspired by a an article by James Surowiecki from The New Yorker posted on http://www.gtdtimes.com/