Bob Goldman



Getting Over Overworking

I don't want to be an alarmist, but you may have a serious problem.

You're working too much.

Now I know that on the surface, the idea that you are working too much seems completely ridiculous. You're famous throughout your company's org chart for being a complete slacker. Considering your lack of productivity, your negative attitude, your complete indifference to deadlines, and your consistently negative reviews, the idea that you are actually doing too much work simply does not compute.

And yet it could be true.

How do I know? I know because I just watched "How Much Work is Too Much Work?" -- 3.5 minutes of riveting video on the website of The Wall Street Journal. In the video, WSJ columnist Sue Shellenbarger and workplace consultant Amy Ruppert discuss the symptoms of -- and cures for -- overwork. (And yes -- let me be the first to start the whispers rushing around Hollywood. It's only a 3.5-minute video, and even though I spent most of that time getting popcorn, I totally smell Academy Award.)

The problem, as I understand it, is that too much work can lead people to a "breaking point." One of the symptoms that shows you're in breaking-point territory is if you are suffering from insomnia. So watch it. If you find it difficult to drift off to dreamland when you're ready for your after-breakfast, or after-lunch or before-dinner naps, you may be working way too hard.

Aches and pains can be another symptom of overworking. Next time you and your colleagues are in the conference room, try an Arabian double front off the conference table. It's a simple gymnastic move in which you start with a half turn and flip two times in the air before landing on your feet. If this results in any aches or pains, you're overworked.

Overwork can also take its toll on relationships. Ruppert tells of a worker who postponed her child's eighth birthday party for one week, because she had agreed to go to a meeting on that day. This is cruel and horrible. She should have taken her kid to the meeting with her. Trust me. After four hours listening to management blather on, that kid would never want another birthday for the rest of their lives.

(There was also some chatter about how overwork can result in loss of memory, but I forget what that was all about.)

Bob Goldman

Bob Goldman is a business humor writer.

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