You routinely put in 14-15 hours a day at the office and often throw in a couple more on the weekend—but you’re still struggling to meet deadlines and on some days feel so overburdened, the quality of your work slips.
Please, just stop. Apart from the obvious health hazards, it’s counterproductive and no one has ever won an award for being the last to leave—at least no one we know.
Anti-workoholism policies are rare in Singapore—but egged on by the progressive culture at startups, many companies are subtly discouraging overtime. If you’re working for a business that hasn’t embraced this culture, here are some helpful tips to clock off early and get the most out of your core work hours:
Reduce your workload Many companies equate long hours with getting more done. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, it’s time to talk to your boss and ask for some responsibilities to be taken off your plate.
Figure out what takes up most of your time. If the majority of it is spent on routine tasks, don’t hesitate to ask for some to be delegated to other members in the team.
Plan ahead to get the most out of your day Before you get into work, make a list of all your unfinished projects. Prioritise and allocate time you need to get each one done. Setting a time limit and using shortcuts can be useful. Do not fixate on inconsequential details that prevent you from moving on to the next task.
Be concise No offense, but some people are really good at appearing busy and overworked. You will see them complain about their workloads, and they’re often the ones telling people what they’re doing – at meetings, during lunch, to friends on the phone - rather than actually doing it.
Changing this mindset is like breaking a bad habit. A good start would be to cut out distractions and set strict, non negotiable deadlines for yourself. Minimise time spent in meetings, and be mindful of having the same conversation twice. Involving a helpful friend or colleague to ensure you stick to your schedule is key.
Set aside some time for yourself When you’re planning your day, I urge you to set aside some time for yourself or for passion projects. It could be half an hour at any point of the day to do anything you want – read a book, build an app, go for a yoga class, meditate, or go for a walk.
Enforcing a hard stop at 6pm or rewarding yourself for not working weekends are also useful things to do when you’re on the brink of a physical or mental burnout.
Seek help If you’ve tried everything but still find that you are a compulsive workaholic, it’s time to call in the big guns. Consider joining a support group or hiring a mental health professional. Workaholism, experts say, much like other mental health issues can be treated with therapy.