If you follow me on Instagram or elsewhere on social, you may have already heard I’m on a quest to do less but better this year. so when Wendy Dressler approached me with an idea for a guest post on the cons of the long hours culture, I was immediately interested.
Here’s Wendy’s take on how the long hours culture is killing us slowly, even as solopreneurs, and what we can do to improve things. (Don’t have time to read this post right now? You can Pin it for later.)
As a solopreneur, you get to set your own hours. It’s great to work when you want, but it’s also hard to know when it’s time to log out for the day. While our cubicle-suffering brethren struggle with the traditional long-hour office culture, we’re not exactly exempt ourselves.
We’ve all struggled with feelings of burnout and exhaustion. It’s hard not to when clients expect us to be available 24/7, no matter the time or date. With that kind of pressure, it’s easy to lose your motivation. We’ve been conditioned as a culture to think long-hour days equal more success, but this thinking might actually be killing us from the inside. Not only are your long hours spent working not actually productive, but you’re costing yourself more than you think.
Let’s face it: we all need to know when it’s time to push work to the side and focus on other things. No matter how much you love your solo-gig, there’s a point when too much is too much. Let’s discuss not only how this culture of working till you drop is doing nothing but harm, but also how you can learn when to call it a day once and for all.
The Myth of Overworking
According to Gallup, 4 in 10 Americans work over 50 hours every week. When you work in an office, you’re expected to always go home last and arrive first. When you work for yourself, working hours are even more blurry. There are no rules. No boss is looking over your shoulder at all hours waiting for you to turn something in. You only have yourself to account for, yet it’s still so hard to turn your mind “off” from client tasks.
When your client work starts piling up, there’s a lot of pressure to work harder, harder, harder. With all the #hustle articles out there on an endless list of blogs, you start to believe it’s actually your job as a solopreneur to keep pushing further on some neverending journey to success.
Working longer might make you feel like you’re getting ahead. Maybe you help a client with a last-minute project, or you turn in something early. It’s hard to separate your work life from your personal life when you work for yourself, especially if you work from home. It’s easy to go from dawn to dusk (and beyond!) some days if you aren’t careful. But don’t be fooled, these extra hours are taking a toll on you.
First, your productivity is at a standstill. Stanford found that those who worked over 70 hours a week didn’t get more work done than those who worked 56 hours. That’s 14 hours completely down the drain that could have been spent doing anything else. If you’re working well into bedtime, you’re increasing your risk for chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
As you can see, it’s time to break these habits for good. Overworking isn’t doing your body and mind any favors, and it’s not helping your clients either. Put the long hours and sleepless nights to rest, and learn to make the most of the time you do have.
Beating the Cycle
After months or even years of working too much, it’s hard to take those initial steps back. It’s easy to feel like you aren’t doing “enough” or like your client work will suffer. I’m here to let you know that it won’t, and you might even feel more productive because of it.
First, learn to prioritize the work you have to do. Every day you have certain tasks that are more important than others. Maybe you need to respond to a few emails every day or make big strides in a client project. These things should come first. Do you really need to work those extra hours during dinner time just to fit in something that doesn’t even need to be on your daily to-do list in the first place? Probably not.
Even a business that relies on hourly staff knows the importance of taking breaks, so you should too. According to science, you should be taking a 17-minute break after every 52 minutes of consecutive work. While you might not want to count out every 52 minutes, we can all get behind regular 17-minute breaks. Instead of just scrolling on Facebook during your break, actually get up and move around. Stretch, walk your dog, eat something. All of these things help you refresh so you can go back to your work with focus.
While it’s hard at first to overcome the feeling that you aren’t working long and hard enough, you are. Respect the boundaries of your body, and know when it’s time to call it a day. Remember, those extra hours probably aren’t really paying off anyway.
Wendy Dessler is a super-connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.
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