Many of us look with awe at the most successful people on the planet and wonder how much work did they have to put in to get where they are. People like Elon Musk and Richard Branson boast about their 100-hour weeks. We may argue that these 100-hour weeks allowed them to reach the top of the pyramid, but what we don’t realize is that it’s not good at all for everyone.
Branson and Musk have the resources to plug-out and relax a little whenever they want, rest of us don’t.
Research shows that consistent long hours at work are not only affecting our health but also our productivity at work as well.
Impact on health
When you work more than 50 hours every week, the risk of coronary problems increases by nearly 50%. Working long hours entails sitting for long hours and decreased mobility leads to an increase in the risk of weight gain, diabetes, and depression as well. Not only that, all of this increases the risk of early death by over 50%, according to research.
Impact on productivity
Apart from the impact on your health, more work is causing a dip in your productivity. Long working hours are eating into your sleep and rest cycles, leaving you vulnerable to loss of appetite and focus. Getting less than six hours of sleep everyday can reduce your productivity by up to 50% while putting in additional hours will hardly impact your productivity at all. You’ve probably already noticed it yourself, but in case you haven’t, perhaps your bosses have.
Impact on personal life
Not only does it impact your health and productivity at work, long working hours have a deeply negative impact on your personal life as well. Lack of sleep, stress, anxiety, and a constant focus on work related issues can cause problems in your personal relations.
A culture shift
Here’s some good news - things are changing. Some organizations are using the problem of long working hours as an opportunity to bring about a positive change for their workforce. Companies like GE and Aetna have introduced health and wellness into their corporate culture and encourage employees with cash and other incentives for logging in healthy sleeping habits through the use of wearables.
Business leaders like Musk and Branson probably need to spend more than 100 hours every week to keep tabs on their business empires. But for the rest of us, there are easier solutions to pay attention to our health and productivity. Start by focusing on your results, not your inputs and convince your boss to measure the same as well. Bring up a discussion on flexible work hours with your boss and try to convince them to at least run a pilot project and show them the impact on your productivity. Learn to say ‘no’ to extra work and avoid chasing perfection in everything. The biggest ally you need in your efforts to justify your workload is self awareness. It may not be easy, but it is definitely achievable.