How to Conquer Overworking

hammer_foundationDo you know people that claim they can’t find the time for things? The ironic thing about this saying is that it is impossible to ‘find’ more time. You have to make time for things. For the most part, when I hear this saying, it comes from those that overwork. They spend the majority of their time working and putting off things in other areas of life.

These people will make time to work more, but they never make any time for not working. Why is this so? It’s engrained in our culture.

Why We Overwork

Our culture associates success with working. If you show up, work your 9-5 job, and leave, you will collect a paycheck, but you won’t be successful. In order to be successful you need to be the first one in the office and you have to be the last one to leave. Put another way, you need to overwork in order to be successful. The problem is that once we do become successful, we associate it with working. We think that we were successful because we worked so hard. Therefore, to continue to be successful, we need to work as hard or harder.

If you pick up any publication on successful leaders or businessmen and women you will see the same typical characteristics:

  • Defined goals
  • Driven to succeed
  • Work extremely long hours
  • Prioritize work over sleep

How Overworking Fails

Overworking fails because it hinders us from being the best we can be. We need to step away from a project and recharge our batteries. This is who we are as people. For me personally, I’ve noticed that when I have a big issue that needs solving I can dedicate a few hours to solving it. Most times, I won’t solve in that time period. I tend to solve the issue that night when watching television or the next morning after I wake up.

Before I realized this, I would spend all day agonizing over solving the problem – and I rarely ever did. As time passed, I put more and more pressure on myself, which in effect pushed me further and further from the solution and created so much unnecessary stress in my life.

Think about when you are trying to find love. The saying “you won’t find love looking for it” is 100% accurate. You won’t find love when you are out looking for it, trying to force it. You find love by doing the things you love with the people you love. Then when you least expect it, you find love. The same concept applies here. When you are looking for a solution, pressuring yourself to find it, you aren’t likely to find it.

Unbalanced Life

A second way overworking fails is through an unbalanced life. Do you know someone that will take a call from a client at any hour of the day, regardless of the time but cannot return a call from a family member or a friend? They are living an unbalanced life.

Medical research is beginning to show that those who overwork are going to start experiencing health issues, if they haven’t already. Stress can cause many types of health complications including heart attacks.

Lastly, overworking means you miss out on family time. Most of my favorite memories and experiences are with my friends and family. If you are always working and don’t spend time with others, you are missing out on a huge part of life.

How to Make Time for Non-Work Activities

The first step in making time for non-work activities is to come to the realization that working more does not equal success. Working smart equals success. You work smarter by accomplishing the most in a small period of time and resting and recharging your mind and body. Specifically:

Learn to Delegate: Many over-workers fear delegating work. It’s either a control issue or it’s the issue of success. But not delegating is cheating you and your co-workers. It cheats you by making you do things that aren’t a priority to you and adds stress to your life. Not delegating also harms co-workers because they aren’t learning new skills or developing into better employees.

Learn to do nothing: This is much harder for the over-worker than it sounds. Most times the over-worker won’t be able to do this from the start. If this is you, start off by doing something non-work related. Find a hobby, spend time with your children. As you become accustomed to this, you will be able to slowly make time for nothing.

Journal: By learning how to take the time to journal we improve ourselves. We learn to reflect and calm our mind down. Do you ever find you can’t fall asleep at night because your mind is racing? Try a few nights of journaling and you’ll find that it calms your mind down and allows you to fall asleep quicker.

Meet New People: Meeting new people and conversing is a great stress reliever. It also allows us to think differently because we hear stories and experiences that others have had and we then think about our lives in a different light. Many times, meeting new people will lead to new friendships, which leads to….

Have Fun: Laugh, do things you did as a kid, play. Just have fun. By playing and having fun, you again will think differently and will begin to use your creativity. For me, there are times when I am trying to solve a problem and I will come up with solutions that will never work. But this is how I think. I work through the crazy “out of this world” solutions and scale them down until I find a solution that works.

If you have a hard time tapping into your creative side, play with a kid. That will get your creative juices flowing in no time.

Final Thoughts

Overworking is not a good thing and overworking does not equal success. Hard work and being smart about that work leads to success. If you have any doubts about this, I leave you with a piece of homework: Make a list of all of the people you know personally that are successful and that you admire and look up to. They can be in any profession, they just have to be successful and you have to admire them. Now think about them as a person. My guess is that you associate them with having a great family life, many friends, being kind, warm, gentle and generous.

This to me doesn’t sound like someone that spends 23 hours of the day working and the other hour focusing on the work that still needs to be completed. If this is the case, then why do you overwork? We just proved you don’t need to overwork to be successful.

I encourage you to sit back and complete this homework and see what you find. That is of course if you can make the time for it.

Author Bio: Don writes for Breath of Optimism, a blog that focuses on positive thinking and how your thoughts help you to be the best person you can be. He recently released his eCourse, 30 Days to Positive Thinking, which helps people take control of their thoughts and begin to think more positively.


  1. I really agree with you! Due to the how society define “success”, people tend to overwork and in the end lead to unbalance life. There were many things that we can do in order to be successful but not getting our life at risk, so why not try these things.

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