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Stress over working long hours


Art81

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Hi there, I have a question about how to work long hours without being stressed. I work in a job that I do enjoy with great people but the downside is the hours. Despite the fact that I do enjoy my job I have a really hard time working extra hours and want to know if anyone has any tips to cope with this. It's simply one of those things that comes with the career so no matter where I work I'll have to deal with it. I know long working hours isn't always healthy but I'm sort of jealous of the people that can do it without it bothering them.

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I've been there and the only thing that I was able to do was to keep a healthy diet, exercise and sleep to help give me the alertness and stamina to deal with the long hours.

 

Being retired military and retired from a corporate career, I don't think that I could have sustained the pace that was required without eating healthy, exercise and manage my sleeping.

 

I sacrificed many events and other fun things to maintain a lifestyle that would afford me the time to get the basic things in my life that would keep me as healthy and productive as possible. There are many other things that can be done. Tai Chi and meditation to name a couple. I've practiced both and they can help immensely.

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I agree with DJohnM above, I think the best way is to take care of yourself and also to really enjoy yourself outside of work so you have a good work/life balance, if you don't have fun out of work I think you'd feel resentful having to work those long hours...also pamper and reward yourself for your work as well! Lady D x

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I've shifted my focus from viewing extra hours as a burden to seeing them as an advantage. If I needed to cram my workload into a shorter schedule, THAT would be stressful. Instead, knowing that I have the work time to accomplish my tasks frees me from panic when the workload is overwhelming.

 

That said, your post is vague. What is your profession and what is your role? What, specifically, is stressful about your work? What other important things does an expanded work schedule prevent you from accomplishing? Do the extra hours feel like wasted time, say, while you wait around in an empty store for customers, or are you throwing yourself into a heavy workload?

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OK, my advice here is to carefully analyze whether these long hours are useful, responsible, required, productive, or whether they are just forced on you by a company that doesn't know how to manage work and doesn't care about their employees.

 

I know so many people in high stress/long hour careers who end up with a really scary set of stress related diseases when they hit their 40s, and they all come to a consensus that they should have wised up and not let companies take advantage of them and burn them out, and that they should have left jobs that were so badly run/overly stressful and looked for ones that allowed them a normal lfe.

 

It is just physically unhealthy for there to be continued and unremittent stress and not enough rest and life balance, and to be honest, I've learned over time that companies who create these stress factories JUST DON"T CARE if they burn you out, they'll just roll someone new in to replace you. Companies are not caring parents who have your welfare at heart, they are money making machines whose goal is to enrich the companies (and the executives running the companies) while the worker bees are used and abused for the purpose.

 

There are companies out there who are caring and don't abuse their employees, but they are maybe 15% of the total. So you have to be very careful that you don't end up be a 'good sport' thinking that is the right thing to do, when really you're just a wage slave toiling away to enrich the company and its executives while destroying your own life and health.

 

So your first task is to stop and think about whether all these hours are REALLY necessary, or whether the company is consistently making decisions that burn its employees out. And if you're working for such a place, there is no hope at all and you'd best look for another job. A GOOD boss will find creative ways to solve problems and get work done that don't involve you working yourself to death. And if you're in a position where that it happening, then you need to protect yourself and decide to change companies, or change careers if the particular career is just too much stress to do year after year.

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I work in Marketing and a lot of my job revolves around brainstorming ideas. I do enjoy being creative at work, it's just when I know I have a 60+ hour week a head of me I get stressed. The problem is that I see others doing it without any issues, at least on the outside it seems like that, and it almost makes me feel lazy for not doing that. I try to exercise as much as possible but it gets hard when I'm working long days. It also affects time spent with friends, family and dating.

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I understand, I'm in marketing, too. My psychological safety net views this as a temporary time of throwing myself into work. I don't heap worries about how long I'll be doing this onto all else.

 

I've also dug in for the ride. This decision removed inner conflict, which also decreased my stress. If you ever decide that this is no longer right for you, you can entertain an exit, but until then, a split mind is an energy drain.

 

Sometimes the deadlines seem impossible, so I've learned by trial and error where I can let go and hand off work with minor followups. I avoid creating constant urgency and only crank up heat on others when absolutely necessary, because running on all cylinders all the time is not only unhealthy, it offers diminishing returns and obscures real urgency.

 

I view no effort as 'wasted'. I trust that when something gets killed it will be resurrected in some form at some point. My frustration and grief are minimized, and I've become an expert archivist.

 

I've cultivated buy-in with my friends and family, so I'm given support rather than grief about my unavailability. In addition to loving what I do, I know that a cheaper crop of people would fight for my job, and this keeps me focused on gratitude for this phase of my career.

 

I make sleep a priority, eat well, do yoga in strange places, and I take some meetings outside for walks around the building. I reward myself after a heavy delivery by grabbing time with family or friends, and I use the phone for 'visits' when I can't be with them.

 

Head high.

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Lavenderdove raises a really good point - your boss' interest is in getting the work done, finishing projects on time and to a high quality. They are not always looking out for your stress levels and work/life balance needs. They will burn you out. So it is up to you to make room for the balance you need, which often means saying no to extra commitments. I have a feeling you are a Type A go-getter who is jumping in on calls and agreeing to take on additional work, a perfectionist who is spending extra time to make his deliverables perfect. You may need to let go of some of that in order to truly have the life you want; it will make you happier at and outside of work, which can ultimately actually make you a better asset to the team than clinging to the perfectionism and volunteerism!

 

I met with a career counselor a few years back and he noticed something I was doing -- instead of building on my career like a totem pole or a skyscraper that grows taller and taller, I was building it like tent posts - continuing to contribute to it and put in effort, but without looking at whether the contributions were necessarily taking me to the next level. For example, putting in time doing grunt work that my bosses asked for instead of seeking out more strategic challenges, pursuing training opportunities but not channeling them into a certification that would help me in my field, agreeing to have meetings about things that could be resolved over a simple email exchange (which, with time zone differences, meant cutting into my non-work hours), logging back onto my work email at night and responding to people (giving them the expectation that I was at their beckon call) instead of using that time to rewind, volunteering for extracurriculars at work (like planning the company holiday party or leading the eco-team) which often went unnoticed by those who were in a position to promote me because these efforts weren't directly related to helping their bottomline, or focusing on the deliverables that were most important to me or my client instead of keeping a sharp eye on those that were most important to my boss (your priorities should mimic the priorities your boss has for you -- no sense spending time on work your boss will never look at or care about). When I took up the challenge of journaling how I spent my day in thirty minute blocks (i.e., 9-9:30 I worked on XYZ), and then analyzing whether there really was value in that work or if it could have been accomplished an easier way or if I pissed away the time on things I could have delegated out, really helped me to reprioritize my work. Now I go home at a reasonable hour and actually enjoy being home (home isn't the sequel to work where I log back on and finish all the things I didn't get done that workday).

 

Goodluck to you, OP!

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