Feeling overworked is a really common problem. You can't always change your work environment, but there are steps you can take to deal with many of the issues associated with an overloaded work life.
Whatever happened to the 40-hour week?
For many of us, the notion of fixed working hours and time to ourselves seems like fantasy, not reality. If you're not doing it because you're passionate about your job, too many hours in the office is bad for you. So what can you do about it? Prioritise.
If you're working too much, talk to your boss about how you can work less. This might involve taking a pay cut or taking on different responsibilities, so figure out what you can sacrifice and bring it to the table. Don't present the issue as if you're telling a loved one you have cancer — you want this to be a positive thing. You don't feel you're being as productive as you can be because too many hours are burning you out. Tell your boss you want to come up with a plan for you to work less, feel better, and perform better.
If you've got a boss you can trust and who cares about your well-being, they'll at least be willing to entertain the idea. If not, you might want to consider looking for another job that understands more hours doesn't necessarily equal more productivity.
I need more sleep!
Sleeping is tough. Even if you fall asleep easily, stay asleep at night, and wake up when you want to in the morning, you still have to manage to go to bed on time. I had such a problem with this that I had to institute a "no work rule" an hour before I wanted to be in bed. Because I'm utilising Seinfeld's productivity secret to get more done, I don't get to check a box off on my calendar if I don't go to bed on time and I end up breaking my chain of productivity. If there's a consequence for going to bed too late — aside from feeling unrested and awful in the morning — it will help you head to bed when you're supposed to. I leave an hour open because I like to take that time to relax.
But what if you're just not sleeping well? First of all, you have to figure out why. Sometimes it's stress-related and sometimes you have an actual sleep issue. Sleep technology can help, but you may need to see your doctor to help you identify possible causes. Once you know your issues, check out our guide to resolving common sleep problems so you can start getting the rest you need.
This office is stress central
Stress sucks, and all of us suffer from it at one point or another. When you're overworked, it's hard to let go of that stress and it often tends to build up. First of all, it helps to understand how stress works, but ultimately you just need to figure out how to relax. Simple breathing exercises help. Meditation and yoga are also very helpful, and you don't have to adopt their associated lifestyles to participate. You may find that just taking a walk by yourself for a good 30 minutes can make a difference. The important thing is you find activities that help you relax and let your brain turn off — and don't involve watching television or mindlessly surfing the web.
My colleagues make me so mad
Don't hate your colleagues. Just because you're doing more work doesn't automatically make you a better person. If you're reading this post, it probably means you're worse off because you're burning out.
If you have a truly problematic co-worker who isn't pulling their weight, it's best to use compassion when dealing with them. If you need to complain to someone else, we've got a guide for that. Essentially what you want to do is try to talk to them about the issue yourself as calmly as possible, expressing concern without shovelling out blame. If you don't get anywhere that way, talk to the manager directly above your coworker and let them take the issue up the ladder.
But remember: the fact that someone is doing less than you doesn't mean they're necessarily slacking off. Just because you work really hard doesn't mean they're not doing enough.
I need a holiday
If you've got lots of annual leave accumulated, there's a clear message: take a holiday already. Only you can get yourself over the guilt of taking time off — guilt you shouldn't be feeling, by the way — but that's not always the only issue.
Some people avoid holidays because they can't afford them. What you can always afford is taking time off and just not going anywhere. Staycations can actually be really fun. Sometimes the best time off is spent doing absolutely nothing, or exploring the city you already live in. You can always aim for a last-minute travel bargain, or just jump in your car and drive. So put in for your time off. Now.
If you want tips on how to solve more crappy job problems, check out our top 10 tricks for improving your work life.