In this lackluster economy, millions of Americans are doing anything to keep their jobs, whether that means skipping their kid's birthday party or punching in at 11 a.m. on a Sunday to catch up on email.
But you know things are dire when Americans think a 40-hour workweek is "part-time" employment and the Labor Department is hitting up Facebook to create a jobs site.
If you feel like a hamster on the treadmill of work, work, work, here are some signs it's time to get more balance in your life. Here's how to make it happen:
1. You keep saying you're "overbooked."
The phrase "overbooked" gets overused a lot because it implies how we feel more than we actually are, notes the psychology blog Distorting Mirror.
Presenting ourselves as hard workers might feel rewarding, but ultimately it's just a visage, or a way to shirk responsibility. On the other hand, it might reveal what you truly put first, in a sign that it's time to rethink your values.
Try this: Rather than try to squeeze more time into your day, learn to say no and prioritize. If work is #1, then take some time to re-consider what the rest of your life -- family, friends, hobbies -- truly mean to you.
2. You've gotten way out of shape.
Whether you work as a freelancer or stay-at-home mom, a change in your diet or appearance should sound an alarm.
Try this: Pay attention to how you're feeling throughout the day -- are you cranky and tired? Do your clothes still fit? Read our tips for fitting in a workout when you work like a dog.
3. You're bent on perfection.
Fear of failure can hold you back in more ways than one. You won't be productive, you'll miss deadlines and could possibly earn the ire of your boss and colleagues.
Try this: Adopt the mantra "good enough," says Debra Condren on MainStreet. "By moving more quickly and nimbly from one project on to the next, you free up temporal and mental space for fresh projects and challenges to make their way into your 'inbox.'"
4. You've got a messy desk.
Sometimes a messy desk is a good thing, signifying a lack of perfection and creativity, notes CareerBuilder. Some might even take it as a "method to a worker's madness."
But if your desk looks more bomb site than chemistry lab, give it an efficiency makeover.
Try this: Follow Lifehacker's advice and keep a running to-do list of what you've got going. Also helpful: filing systems, putting things away once you're done with them, and keeping just what you need within easy reach.
5. You're consumed with "face time."
Despite what your employer may think, "face time," i.e. putting in hours for the sake of looking like you're working, does not equal productivity.
How many of us have burned the five to six p.m. hour surfing the web? Huge waste of time.
Try this: Focus on improving efficiency so you can have a life and focus on what matters. You won't remember the night you worked until 7 p.m., but the memory of a night out with friends could last a lifetime.
6. Social life? What social life?
Remember those people who love you? The ones you call whenever you're stressed or something amazing just happened?
If you've been a no-show at more than a few social events, rejigger priorities.
Try this: Make time for the people who matter, simple as that. Schedule time as you would a meeting and promise yourself you'll stick to it. Also helpful: Planning for fun in advance and eating outside of work (i.e., NOT at your desk). Take a walk and have things to look forward to outside those four walls. You'll feel refreshed and excited to live.
7. You're working round-the-clock.
Bringing work home, working late at night and over the weekends does not a healthy person make. And if you're even having dreams (or nightmares) about your place of employment, then it's really time to make changes.
Try this: Set limits for when you will and won't be on call. This means getting assertive about when you're leaving the office or taking a day without apology. Also get in the habit of delegating and managing your time.
8. You're losing it.
If you've got a short-fuse, that's a pretty good sign you've had enough and aren't seeing things clearly.
Try this: As with social engagements, make personal, "me" time a priority in your planner. Do whatever it takes to de-stress, adds Rebecca Rand, a licensed clinical worker in New York on dctalktherapy.com. “There’s a greater likelihood it will happen if you schedule it," she says.
9. You're conking out on the clock.
You'll sleep when you're dead, right? Not if you can barely make it alive through the day.
Try this: Give yourself a bedtime and make sleep, like having a social life and personal time, a must. After all, it is.
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