In this day and age, it’s easier than ever to fall into the arms of overworking. The line between “working from home” and “living at work” is a fine one, even more so when we’ve been thrust into a remote setup overnight.
Freelancers and full-time remote employees have had the time and space to create their own schedules and processes to keep a functioning work-life balance. But the many of us who have found ourselves making an office out of our bedrooms mid-pandemic, well, we’re probably still ironing out some details.
And let’s be honest. This is the hustle era. Many of us were already exhibiting symptoms of overworking prior to confinement. Now, while being passionate and hardworking are great qualities, we also need to take care of ourselves and our mental health in order to deliver the best results.
Below, we’ll talk about how to identify whether you’re working past your limit and how to fix it if you are.
Symptoms of overworking
We’ve all been there, maybe more times than we care to admit. You’ll rest your head against the pillow, hoping to get some much-needed hours of sleep. Except you can’t, because your brain is still stuck trying to solve problems, plot moves, and remind you of every task you still have pending.
Insomnia, or a generalized inability to sleep, is one of the most common signs of overworking. When we don’t give our bodies enough time to wind down after a day of work, it’s nearly impossible to fall asleep, no matter how tired we are.
2. Bad mood
When we’re not sleeping properly, we grow irritable. And just because our lack of sleep becomes standard, it doesn’t mean our mood won’t continue to suffer for it. If you find yourself snapping at others or like there’s an unshakable pessimism around you, it might be symptom of overworking.
3. Weight fluctuation
If we spend our days absorbed in work, we could find ourselves skipping meals or snacking 24/7. Of course, if you do this once or twice a month it’s not a big deal, but if you start seeing significant changes in your weight, it could be mean you need to bring more awareness to your day-to-day habits.
4. Inability to focus
The irony of overworking yourself is that it actually lessens your productivity. When we’re tired or taking on too much, we begin to lose focus. It becomes harder to keep track of things, creating a sense of fogginess around everything we do. When we get to this point, the best course of action is reigning in those projects and refocusing our energy into a single task.
How to stop overworking yourself
1. Understand that burnout is counterproductive
To stop overworking in its tracks, we need to understand why we overwork ourselves in the first place. Usually, we demand more from ourselves because we feel it brings us closer to our goal. This is true to some extent. The issue is that we often lose sight of the difference between “doing our best” and “doing more than our mind and body can take.”
The first step to stop overworking ourselves is recognizing that burnout is counterproductive. When we drive ourselves to the point of exhaustion, we’ll make more mistakes, lose focus, and it’ll take us even longer to recuperate.
2. Plan and keep a schedule
Now that you’re ready to revisit your working habits, it’s a great time to introduce the concept of scheduling. There are only so many hours in a day, but it’ll be easier to get everything done if there’s a designated time for everything.
When you keep a schedule, two things can happen. One is, of course, being able to stay on top of all your tasks. But the other is somewhat magical and can only happen once you’ve brought in some structure to your daily routine.
And what is it, you may ask? It’s a little thing called synergy. When you know your schedule from top to bottom, new combinations and possibilities will start coming to mind. You’ll find that oven roasted vegetables can cook themselves while you shower. You might also find that certain tasks are better done in bulk, like scheduling all your social media posts in one morning a week instead of manually posting every day.
There will be as many schedules as there are people, so keep at it until you find something that works for you.
3. Find a relaxation routine
And while on the topic of schedules, make sure you’re also setting out some time for rest and relaxation. It can be as simple as watching an episode of your favorite show, reading a book, or listening to a podcast. You can go for walks, invest of bath salts or aromatherapy candles, practice yoga, or hit the gym.
Just make sure your relaxation time is something that gives back to your mental health and your body. That, paired with a good night’s sleep, will surely help you ward off burnout.
4. Separate yourself from work devices
We love notifications, and we’re so used to them we probably even dream about checking our phones sometimes. It’s hard to relax if your work emails are popping up on your personal phone or if you’re checking your work email at all hours.
Although you can allow for some grace periods over the weekend and after work to check in, it’s important to give yourself a few hours before bed without access to any phone. If an issue pops up and you’re reading about it right before bed, the result will be another stressful, sleepless night trying to solve a problem that still needs to wait until morning to be solved.
5. Do right by yourself
There are many ways to overwork yourself, and even more ways to cheat yourself out of relaxation. Household chores, personal projects, and running errands still fall under “work” and not “play.” So, make sure to schedule them accordingly.
By carving out small pockets of self-care time, even within the busiest of days, will keep your body and mind happy and focused.