By being easier on ourselves with regard to when to 'call it a day', not only may we be happier and healthier, our performance may improve. Image courtesy of atiphotobody at freedigitalphotos.net
Have you ever felt tired, or know objectively it is getting so late that common sense would dictate you have a break, yet stayed awake, or stayed active trying to accomplish a task?
Unfortunately in the Western world many of us have become workaholics to strive to an ideal of a ‘successful’ person, and consequently we may become out of tune with our own physical and psychological needs – one of which is to “call it a day!”
This article is designed for those who push their nightly slumber aside because they believe they need to get certain tasks done first. So, when do you know its time to choose not to push on, and “call it a day”.
1. You have the physical signs of tiredness: yawning, sore muscles or a general feeling of fatigue. Alternatively you are relying on more than five cups of coffee in one day to keep awake.
If you push on despite feeling physically tired, it is kind of like going into an energy debt, much like when you try to withdraw money when there’s none left, you’re in debit, and will need to make that up before you’re in credit again. And so it is with energy: if you physically are tired and push on, your body has got to get that extra energy from somewhere. However your sleep hours may need to be the same if you have to be at work at a certain time. You go into energy debit, so to speak and may not perform the best the next day when its important to be productive: at work!
2. You keep making mistakes. This is one of the psychological consequences of tiredness and work is frustrating, even counterproductive if you need to then fix the errors you made when you kept working instead of hitting the sack.
3. You’re experiencing irritability, anger or a low mood. This is another sign your psychological batteries may need recharging.
4. When life balance is suffering If you find yourself working long hours frequently and habitually, you may be neglecting your health. Whilst striving to accomplish a task, you may snack on unhealthy foods or rely excessively on takeaway food, you may not have time to exercise; sometimes your relationship with your spouse or family may seem to have taken a backseat. You may realise your sex life is suffering, or you no longer have time for your friends.
5. When you have not done anything pleasurable for yourself for several days. Sometimes even though the work is piling up, you may need to just say ‘forget it’ one night, and have that bubble bath, or catch up with a girlfriend. You may actually find your work capacity improves after a break and how you feel about your career is more positive, thus improving your work efficiency.
6. If you feel you are being taken advantage of, or not compensated for your effort. It’s important to do what you feel is reasonable after work hours and be able to ‘call it a day’ so that adequate rest is taken.
In real life of course, when you need the job you may not feel you have the luxury of standing up to a over-demanding boss who does not seem to care about treating his or her employees as they should. However, if there is evidence you are working more and not being compensated adequately for it, and you are in a position to feel you can bring this up without risk then you owe it to yourself. Otherwise you may find you will continue to be the person the boss lays extra work on because they know you will.
7. When you begin to have or have a worsening of, negative feelings about your job - whether they did not exist before or were there but have intensified. When you overwork, you may lose passion and enthusiasm as work becomes more like a tedious duty. By having more rest and maintaining a healthy life balance you may have more chance of retaining enthusiasm for your job (or at least the capacity to keep tolerating it!)
8. If you find your health is suffering for example you are getting headaches or more frequent colds you may find that you need to have a few more days of more time for you: do what absolutely needs doing, then time for you!
By knowing when to stop, we are taking care of our health, sending a message to ourselves that we are worthwhile and deserve adequate rest and life balance, our performance may be more consistent or even improve as fatigue is removed from the picture and we don’t let ourselves take on more work that is reasonable.
On that note, I am calling it a day as it’s almost ten!