We are in a tough economy and many of us are struggling to retain our jobs.  Many companies are reducing workers to cut costs at the expense of the remaining workers doing more work than possible.  Work overload can be hazardous to your health. 

Some tips to help you: first recognize that you are overloaded in order to control it.  If you do not control it, the work will control you.  Here are some indicators that you may be overworked:

  1. health effects: sleeplessness can result from chronic overwork.  Your body needs time to wind down before sleep.  Inadequate exercise, relaxation, increased stimulants (coffee, tea) and more frequent take-out meals can lead to sudden weight gain.
  2. relationships: not making time for others can damage relationships with your spouse, children, relatives, friends and colleagues
  3. overall foundation:  neglecting home or vehicle care can create financial and safety risks. Neglecting hygiene and wardrobe can seem safe enough at first, but they can be demoralizing.

Here are some tips to help the hyper over-worker:

1. Recognize your own coping

  • If your best friends at work have left or have been laid off, you might feel loss and loneliness. Are you coping by taking on work?
  • Deal with difficult emotions directly. Find someone to talk to: spouse, friend, cleric, counselor, or psychotherapist.

2. Get help and understanding at home

  • There are two popular strategies.

(1)You can focus on work, dealing with problems at home only when they become really severe, or

(2)You can ask for help and understanding at home as soon as possible, and find ways to be together lovingly and with respect. The former is tempting because it’s easier at first, but the latter is definitely the way to go.

 3. Beware creeping perfectionism

  • Perhaps the definition of “doing things right” needs review in light of current conditions.  Is it really necessary to do all you’re doing?

 4. Deny requests for help at work

  • Some of your co-workers cope with overwork by asking for favors or help. Refusing management requests can be risky, especially if you need the job, but help requests from peers or subordinates are different. Delay responding. When you do respond, make a counter offer — selective assistance or looser deadlines.

 5. Learn and automate

  • If you work with computers, almost certainly you aren’t using some of their most powerful features. Be selective. Learn to use capabilities that save time by automating tasks you now do yourself.

Whether the source of your overwork is management, teammates, peers or subordinates, you probably aren’t alone. Try talking about overwork directly, if you can. Explain how you feel and ask for consideration. If you work together you will be able to find clever ways to reduce every one’s work load.