Episode 54: Strategies to Stop Overworking

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So many of us are over working and we don’t know how or why to stop. Listen in as we discuss: 

  • Why we overwork
  • How out-dated work ethics impact our mindset
  • How overworking negatively affects our career and well-being
  • The difference between a workaholic and a hard-worker
  • The 6 crucial areas to address if you are overworking

Mentioned on the show:

Read My HuffPost Article Here

Follow @jillGriffinOffical on Instagram daily inspiration. 

Visit JillGriffinCoaching.com for free content and strategies to refresh your career.

Read the Transcript
Hi friends, welcome back

How has your week been? I want to thank all the people who have reached out to thank me for my article on HuffPost. I had a friend from high school reach out over the weekend to tell me that I was a trending topic. That’s not something I ever thought I’d be  – a trending topic. HA. What I keep hearing is that I have clearly hit a nerve around the workplace, inclusion, invisible or non-apparent disabilities, and clearly that so many of us are over-working because we think we have to. 

So many of us OVER do a lot of things because we think we have to.  

A Pew Research Center study found that over 50% of employed people check their work email on the weekends and 34% of them check email on vacation.

A Harvard Medical School study found that 23% of workers experience insomnia and many others are suffering from a lack of rest. Sleep deprivation is costing US companies $63.2 billion in lost productivity each year.

What do you over-do and why?

Why do you over-work? 

If your job is a M-F and have agreed to a general 9-6pm then why are you working nights and weekends? 

If you are a salaried employee, why are you continuing to clocking 50, 60 hours a week or more? 

If you are a remote worker, or you are still working from home due to covid. I am hearing that many people have eliminated their commute but they’ve now just donated that commuting time to work time. 


So many clients come to me telling me that they work long hours, nights, weekends, and if they are not working a weekend, they are mentally working a weekend. 

Because they may be with their friends but they are talking about work. 

They may be with their family but they are thinking about work. 

Before you think 
…there’s so much work I have to do…
…My boss or client expects this level of work from us every week… 
…Or I have to do this work…because no one else will…

I want you to know that I hear you. 

And there are many layers and nuances to these thoughts and working environments. It’s not a one size fits all solution but what I find is that most people are OVER working because of a few reasons. 

Do you see if you find yourself in any of these examples? 

You feel there are external expectations that you can’t say no to
You blame it on your personality you may say, I am a do-er or an achiever – that’s my brand or you may think It’s just easier if I get it done myself   – it’s sort of this very protestant work ethic – more on that later. Or you may be driven by worry. You feel a lot of pressure and anxiety and you think that if you push through the worry and fear it will pass. It may lessen with completion of the task, but be assured that it will be back with the next project. 

I want to ask you

What are you really saying no to when you say yes to this work? When you continue to say YES to something you have not agreed to, you are saying no to something else

You are overworking because you think that you will feel a certain way by overworking. 

You may be trying to get noticed or ahead.
Or you may be avoiding something.

Or you believe that working hard, and making sure that you are not lazy has some moral value. 

Or you are waiting for your boss, your company, to reset the deck. To Create balance. To implement that shiny new employee wellness program. 

Don’t be a victim. Don’t blame the man. This reset on overworking requires you. You have to make the change. Your health and well-being depend on it. Maybe not today, but it tends to catch up with all of us if we don’t find the balance. 

So often we overwork and we think that you will feel better about yourself because effort is key and failure is easier if you knew you tried your hardest. 

But you are lying to yourself. 

This mindset is really harsh. And it’s damaging to your career well-being. 

And it’s fed constantly by the silicon valley and tech culture of driving to the finish line, sleep when you’re dead.

 As philosopher Alan Watts says, and I am paraphrasing, 

We find ourselves sitting at our desk or dining table with clenched jawlines, furrowed brows and shallow breathing in order to will or control our feelings. And we think this will drive us to put in effort. 

These bodily actions don’t help us get it done or up-level our effort. They simply leave us exhausted and achy. 

This is that protestant work ethic. If it’s hurting it must be working. That’s the outdated logic of the protestant work ethic. Working hard on the right things is awesome. 

Working hard because of fear, worry, or that you think it will make you feel needed, or valued, is not worth it and it requires a mindset shift. 

What does it mean to put in effort? How would you define effort? Would your company culture define it in the same way? 

When we aren’t clear in our career identity we often fall into taking actions that I call the productive or busy olympics. We hustle and grind. 

And when the work we are doing doesn’t produce a tangible result on the same day…it can get mentally hard because it’s hard to determine if we were productive without an output. When I mean is,  If you work in sales, the value you are creating is understanding your clients business challenges and finding a solution for them. If you are a creative director, you are researching and thinking and moving a project forward but there may not be something to SEE yet. 

In Psychology Today, Dr. Barbara Killinger said the differences between a “workaholic” and a “hard worker” include being able to be emotionally present for friends, family, and co-workers and being able to take a break after a period of working extra hard to meet a goal. “Workaholics” can’t do that and feel constant internal chaos. They may feel a need to be in control and complete tasks the way they believe is best.

Things to do:

You need a big enough why to change any behavior. 
When work is light, don’t judge yourself or your work. What if it’s ok as is? What if it could be easy?
If work is overloaded and heavy, ask yourself if you are avoiding something. Do you find yourself overworking because you think it will make you feel better in the end? Let me remind you that an action, overworking, will never fix a thought problem “I have to make sure this is “perfect” or if you are avoiding something in your personal life – you don’t want to think about a relationship you find challenging? Awareness precedes change. Becoming aware of what you are doing will help you rethink it. 

Process how you are feeling

When you are in a safe place, consider allowing the feelings of worry and fear to swell. Can you be curious about it? What is happening behind the scenes is just neurochemicals floating through your body. 

Time management reframe
Then reframe your time commitment. What does success look like? How would you re-define it? What does a title or dollar amount mean to you? Is that true? Does it work or serve you? Create the list of results you want instead of the hours you’ve worked.

Block off time on your calendar. Just because. It’s space to breathe. Think. Grow. talk a walk. 

Practice constraint. 
It’s funny, when I give myself the flexibility to create content it always goes overboard. If I say I am going to write the slide presentation AKA the deck on Tuesday, then guess what? I will spend hours on that day creating the deck. If I decide that I will spend from 10-12p doing something, then guess what, that’s what I spend. And it gets done. When I hear people say “I work best under pressure” It’s really that you work best with a constraint. You could be that constraint on yourself right now and get it done. 

As an entrepreneur, I have had to put up really clear boundaries with myself and work. It’s been 5 years and it still feels weird. I can rework my week to look pretty much how I want but I sometimes still feel weird or like I am going to get in trouble if I am enjoying a business reading a book on a Tuesday afternoon. Shouldn’t I be producing something? 

I am. I am producing space and rest so I can ultimately produce master coaching, Creative solutions and career strategies for my clients. I too work on my career well-being.  

Dont multi-task. 
And yes, super tactical, dont multi-task. Turn off distractions – the phone is on Do not disturb. The Email is CLOSED. SLACK and TEAMS are CLOSED. YES. CLOSED. 

Constructive Rest
When we work, work. When we relax we relax. 
Building in time for 30 min meditation. Go for a walk or get some exercise. Eat lunch away from your workstation. Decompress. 

All of these things will make you more productive because in space, dare I suggest boredom, you will find creativity, solutions and career well-being. 

As entrepreneur Dan Pallotta says, Worry isn’t work. Being stressed out isn’t work. Anxiety isn’t work. Entertaining a sense of impending doom isn’t work. Incessant internal verbal punishment doesn’t work. Indulging the great unknown fear in your own mind isn’t work. Hating yourself isn’t work.

He goes on to say  We stopped burning witches at the stake four hundred years ago. It’s time we stopped doing it to ourselves.

Ok friends, Let me know what you think about overworking. I’d love to hear from you. 
Before I go, who’s helping you with your career strategy? 
I’d be honored to help you. Check out the details in the show notes where you can apply for my 1:1 coaching program.

Alright my friends. Thanks for joining me this week. Until next time.