What to do when work is wrecking your life

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Philosophers throughout the ages tell us that we need to centre our lives around work and love. We need something to keep our minds occupied during the day (work), and people to go home and love in the evenings and on weekends (family and friends). 

Unfortunately, work isn’t always a pleasant experience. We like the fact that it pays money and gives us a sense of purpose, but we don’t enjoy the endless meetings, stress, late nights and worry that it involves. 

Experts are now in pretty much unanimous agreement that bad working environments damage our health, particularly our mental well being. Toxic cultures, over-work, and constant emails during “down time” are all major hazards. For many people, the situation is so bad that it is sucking the joy out of life. 

There are physical dangers too. Companies often employ poor working practices or expose colleagues to dangerous chemicals. Finding out how to calculate compensation for an injury, therefore, is essential for many workers. 

In this post, we take a look at what you need to do when your work is seriously affecting your ability to enjoy your life. We’re not talking about the odd episode of stress here and there. Instead, we’re referring to a situation where you really don’t want to go into the office on a Monday morning and you feel panicky about the prospect. 

Say “No” More Often

Have you noticed that the more you say “yes” to things, the more stressed out your life becomes?

If so, you’re not alone. People who say yes to work (and those who become more competent), often find that they have more work to do. 

When saying no to people, you need to be tactful. Often, you don’t need to say no outright. Instead, you just say something like, “I’d love to help you with your project today, but unfortunately my schedule is busy until Thursday next week.” 

This kind of response allows you to stand your ground but also shows the other person that you’re still keen on helping them, as long as you have time. Naturally, when they get a response like this, they are much more likely to attempt to complete the project by themselves, instead of leaning on you. Also, if they know you’re busy, they’re much less likely to pester you in the future, unless absolutely necessary. 

Don’t Allow Work To Take Over Your Entire Life

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When you take a job, set clear boundaries. If you know that being on-call at weekends and during evenings isn’t for you, make this clear to your employer from the start. If they’re not happy with that, take another job offer. 

Checking your emails at the weekend is tempting. You want to see if anything has gone wrong during the time you’ve been away from your computer. Your boss might like this approach, but it isn’t good for your wellbeing. You need at least one day per week where you allow your nervous system to reset and recharge, preparing you for what’s coming at you next week. 

Think About The Big Picture

When work is tough, it is all too easy to get bogged down in the daily details. They seem to matter more than anything else in the world.

When this happens, take a step back. Ask yourself whether what is going on in the office right now is going to matter to you in five years. Is it really something you’re going to be thinking about when you’re 90? Almost certainly not. 

There are aspects of life that are just so much more important than any given day of the week at work. Think about how your life is fulfilling these elements, not just work-related ones. 

Take Time For A Digital Detox

Getting out of the office and enjoying a digital detox is essential. Constant notifications, alerts and emails will eventually frazzle your nervous system. 

Let go of the need to use your phone or computer at the weekend. Spend the time reconnecting with nature and enjoying the bounty that it has to offer. Remember that you’re a human being, not a drone or a machine. You need to connect with the wider world instead of just the pressure and deadlines imposed by your work.

Ask Yourself Whether Your Employer Is Being Reasonable

Working 40 hours per week is enough. But many employers expect more than that. It’s not uncommon for some people to put in 60 to 90 hours, just in the course of their regular job. (We’re not talking about entrepreneurs here). That’s far too much. It takes away from other aspects of life and, if you find it stressful, can also make you feel exhausted and burned out. 

Ask yourself if your employer is being reasonable. If you find yourself constantly having to stay late after work without getting paid, then consider whether it is time to leave. Remember, there are always other options available. 

Do Your Own Thing

If working for somebody else is a perennial challenge for you, then don’t be afraid to just do your own thing. You might not earn as much money to start off, but there are other rewards. You’ll have more control over your time and you won’t need to report to a boss. You’ll also have unlimited earning potential, depending on the extent of your success. 

Be Realistic About What You Can Get Done

If you think that you can do everything that you put on your to-do list, you’ll find yourself in a world of pain. Schedules have an annoying habit of growing and growing if you allow them to. 

Be realistic about what you can get done in a day, week or month. Be clear about what’s achievable, and what isn’t.

In summary, there are many ways to prevent work from wrecking your life, but they’re not always easy to do. They require a certain mental fortitude. You need to be absolutely clear on what you’re willing to do, and what you’re not. 

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