Are You Working Too Much?

by Oct 30, 2020Leadership Development0 comments

I see you there…working your butt off. Wait…are you in the gym? Or is that a standing desk and you’re really just working long into the night? I guess it’s safe to bet that if you’re here reading this then chances are pretty good it’s another late night at work. Or maybe a loved one sent this to you as a not-so-subtle message? Either way, here’s some signs that you’ve gone beyond working hard and are just plain working too much.

You’re working more than 56 hours per week

Sorry for such an exact number but it made sense to just call it what it is. A Standford research paper showed that errors go up and output goes down as you creep over 40 hours per week. And productivity tops at about 56 hours per week. So why put in more hours if your output doesn’t reap the benefits? 

Try this instead:

Use a to-do method that makes sense for your personality and helps you prioritize your tasks. We can’t do it all every day so what’s the top 3 priorities for the day and then give yourself permission to not stay late. Long hours do not equal more productivity. 

Daytime fatigue 

There’s the very real fact that working too much (aka crazy hours) means there’s less time for sleep. But there’s also the effects of stress that create an ongoing feeling of fatigue. That Standford research paper also highlights that 38% of working adults reported fatigue and stress in the previous 2 weeks. Know that you’re not alone.

Try this instead:

Commit to getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Need more convincing? Here’s 10 reasons good sleep is important. It’s easy to forget that our brain is a muscle and, like all muscles, will need to be stressed and then rested. The Draigum Group published data showing that the top 10% of highest productivity workers took a 17-minute break every 52 minutes (I’m totally sending that to my boss the next time they push for all-day meetings)

You’re turning to other substances to “unwind”

For many working adults, this is alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana (and sometimes the really serious drugs). Honestly, I would include food here too (I blame the makers of oreos). When we are unable to cope with life through healthy means then it’s a good sign that we’re probably outside of healthy work/life balance. 

Try this instead:

Find a healthy outlet that you truly enjoy. Is it music or a good book or exercise (maybe you don’t like the exercise as much as you love the feeling afterwards) or laughing with a friend? We all need something to balance out our days. We can’t sprint all day and not replenish our minds. 

*If you struggle with serious drug addiction then seeking professional help is your best path forward. It’s not an easy journey but it’s well worth it. 

Your relationships are suffering

Did someone just send you this article? If yes, then this one’s for you (but they mean well, right?). Our projects and output don’t come to our funerals when our time on this Earth is over. It’s the people in our lives that really matter in the end. If you are struggling to maintain healthy relationships because of work commitments then it might be a good time to re-evaluate what work expects and what you can realistically deliver. And sometimes this isn’t due just to the hours being worked but the stress and fatigue that impacts our relationships too. 

Try this instead:

Look for ways to connect that are realistic for you (phone call, text, email, dinner, coffee, etc).Then set a calendar reminder for each person that’s dearest to you. They can be at different cadences and doing different things but if they’re important to you then make room for them. 

You’re back and/or neck are aching

No, it’s not just from sleeping in wonky positions. Long hours can result in aches and pains that persist. We not only have to consider our work environment but also the number of hours in front of our computer.  

Try this instead:

Invest in proper ergonomic equipment for you to work comfortably but also do some stretching and exercise throughout the day (remember those breaks mentioned above? Yup, perfect time for some stretching). Plus all the other tips above winkwink.

You’re dreaming about work

The worst kind of dreams! Nothing like waking up and feeling stressed out before you even leave the bed. These dreams are an indicator that either your stress levels are high or you’re working too much (I typically have these dreams related to stress levels and not hours worked)

Try this:

Spend some time before bed decompressing from the day. Pen and paper are handy for getting things out of your head so that you can sleep peacefully. Coloring is really popular right now but a good old fashioned crossword, word search or sudoku can also help take your mind off things. 

A final note: It’s important to also consider the season of work and life you’re in. Working too much is definitely relative and sometimes comes in spurts that are manageable. If you’re in a season of work that is demanding but short, then things may have to bend a little. (As long as your health isn’t suffering for it) 

If your “season” has been going on for months then it’s no longer a season.

Want to dig a little deeper? Check out these tips for work life balance.

What’s your first sign that you’re working too much? 


Enjoyed this post?

Share it with your friends!

Use our social sharing icons located on the left of this page. Don’t forget to tag @kdpenn100.

Comments and conversation are welcomed.

A few reminders: Stay on topic, be polite, it’s ok to disagree but no attacking.

About The Author

Hey folks! I’m KD and I’m glad you’re here. Disruptor, leader, mom, coach…I’ve had many titles in my life but mom and disruptor are my two favorite. I’d like to think that I’m raising 4 more disruptors to join my lifelong cause of changing the abundant oppressive systems that still exist. Whether that’s corporate culture, LGBTQ+ rights, educational equity, or generational trauma, it’s all powerful and needed work. Check out the freebies and read more about me here.


Keep Reading


Enter your name and email to download your freebie.

Psalm 16 is a great reminder of where our trust lies. If you find yourself struggling to let go of stress and worry then grab this beautiful artwork to hang up as a reminder.


By signing up, you are also agreeing to our Privacy Policy

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Aligning Your Life with Your Values Through Mind Mapping

Enter your name and email to download your freebie.

A life left unchecked will often slowly veer off course. Use this exercise to see which areas of your life are aligned to your values and the outcomes you want.


By signing up, you are also agreeing to our Privacy Policy

You have Successfully Subscribed!

eGuide: How To Use Boundaries To Improve Work Life Balance
Enter your name and email to download your freebie.

eGuide: How To Use Boundaries To Improve Work Life Balance

Enter your name and email to download your freebie.

Looking for ways to give your brain a break and not feel “always-on?” Check out this e-guide designed to walk you through actionable steps specific to your life and needs. 

By signing up, you are also agreeing to our Privacy Policy

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This