Most of us are well aware of terms like “hustle culture”, “workaholism”, “busy means successful”, and it’s no secret that we all are culturally embedded with “working hard” values. From an early age, we are taught that “the harder you work, the more successful you get”. Unfortunately, we have romanticized hard work way too much, and it needs to change. The absence of proper sleep, good diet, relaxation and family time isn’t something to be applauded. Some people wear their burnout as a badge of honour.
According to a survey by Qua, 84% of women believe that work is a critical part of our identity. But at the same time, it’s important to understand that overworking isn’t ‘cool’ when it starts jeopardizing your health, life or productivity. With the shift to remote working, the lines between work and life have blurred. The same poll showed that 63% of women feel that they can never entirely switch out of work mode. It is good to be a perfectionist and it is good to achieve your deadlines, but at the same time, it is important to maintain your well-being.
From emphasizing the importance of small breaks to establishing boundaries, 5 working women share their views on why we need to stop glamorizing overworking.
Breaks Are Important!
A Stanford research shows that overworking decreases productivity and several more such studies support the correlation between overworking and poorer quality of work. Kuntal Malia, Co-founder of Stylenook, says, “Overworking definitely leads to burnout and affects different aspects of our lives. However, it also impacts the work that we do. Our work nowadays requires fresh and creative ways of doing things - this also means that our mind needs to be recharged and rejuvenated. Small breaks and change of pace can lead to a big difference.” Avoid working on a stretch and take small breaks in between tasks. Work according to the Ultradian rhythm. Take a walk in your garden or just take a simple coffee break sans gadgets, and put the time in articulating your thoughts.
Don’t Overwork, Work Smart
Diksha Sachdev, Founder & CEO of Fashion Solutions says, “I believe most of us have been overworking since the start of the pandemic. With the boundaries of work from home being fluid and the general uncertainty of this period - most of us are stressed and overworked. I believe overworking leads to a continuous fight or flight response in our bodies. Thinking continuously about work leads to more worry and stress. It’s a vicious cycle that can only be stopped by establishing strong boundaries. We need to realize there is a lot more to life than just work. I don’t believe that overworking leads to success. The idea is to work smart.”
Working smartly rather than working hard can improve your performance and productivity while increasing your overall job satisfaction. Just like we have a morning routine to start our work, we should also set a routine for the end of the day. Start by crossing out all the work that you have finished at the end of the day from your to-do list, make a fresh list for the next morning and end the working hours by straightening away your desk and putting away any items that are out of place.
Number Of Hours Does Not Equal Quality
Another major change that was needed even before the “WFH” situation is that companies stop forcing employees to put in more hours in the office than the usual working hours. Frowning upon people who get their work done and leave on time is something we need to stop immediately. The number of hours does not equal quality. A Boston University study showed managers couldn’t tell the difference between employees who worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to.
Krusha Sahjwani Malkani, Director and Head of Asia at Sociabble says, “I do believe in hard work but not mindless robotic hard work. Leaders need to set an example for their teams. If they never switch off, their teams will feel compelled not to either. And that creates a toxic cycle. The brain is only capable of focused work for a limited number of hours. When we continuously stretch this boundary, our quality of work suffers. Let's stop romanticizing being tired. I don't believe life was designed to make us feel that way. Let's start glamourizing work-life balance or even better - work-life integration.”
Do Not Overload And Overwhelm Yourself
Vidhi Gupta, Co-founder & Creative Director of Zariin says, “I have worked every single day in the last 14 months. I’m not sure why and when - I started putting pressure on myself for being productive at all hours. And if overworking wasn’t enough, the constant availability of resources like productivity apps, skills to add, clubhouses for hearing an extra POV, there is information overload all the time. This is neither sustainable nor healthy. We need to stop overwhelming ourselves. Whether it is FOMO driving us, or just self-induced pressure- we need to learn to shut down our brain (and all gadgets) and not feel guilty about it.” There are innumerable activities to choose for your relaxation time, but if it is stressing you out and seems like another task, simply take a nap or listen to your old playlists. If you feel like sitting on your balcony with a cup of tea, do that. Do whatever gives you mental peace but stop worrying about trying new things.
Glamourize Healthy Habits
Riddhi Doshi Anand, Editor at Luxebook.in says, “With work from home, most employees think that there is no need for holidays. In many cases, even the 21-day paid leaves have been cancelled in the name of cost-cutting or post-covid revival, which I think is not fair. In trying times, people need breaks and a better work-life balance. So, glamourize the fact that you step out to walk or do yoga immediately after the workday ends at the stipulated time and not about how much you overworked.”
The key to overcoming overworking is by defining your priorities and creating a structure that helps achieve your goal without compromising on your well-being. Start by setting your work goals around your life priorities—not the other way around. If friends, family, health, or other interests are more important than work, plan accordingly. Another way you can reduce overworking is by keeping yourself accountable- tell your family, friends, and colleagues about your goals and priorities and ask them to point out when you’re going down the overworking rabbit hole. Don’t take up a load of responsibilities just to impress your boss, if you know you won’t be able to complete a task without working overtime, negotiate a smaller scope of work, propose a more reasonable timeline, or don’t take it on at all.
Breaking the cycle of overworking isn’t easy, but we believe creating a healthier and productive lifestyle is worth the effort.