We all know that 9-to-5 jobs aren’t exactly a thing anymore — especially with studies showing Americans are working more now than ever, thanks to COVID-19's impact on work-life balance.
Yet, while long hours are pretty much the norm these days, that does not mean that work should be taking over your life. If you can barely find time to get up and use the bathroom during the workday — or if you’re beginning to realize you haven’t FaceTimed your friends in a year — you’re probably neglecting your personal life.
Here are seven signs that you need to start paying better attention to your work-life balance:
1. The first thing you do before you go to bed — and the first thing you do when you open your eyes in the morning — is check your work email.
We’re not suggesting you need to unplug completely after work hours (though if you can, by all means, go for it!). But if you don’t allow yourself some time to unwind and relax, particularly before you go to sleep, you’re going to drive yourself to burnout.
2. You’ve been avoiding the doctor — not because you’re afraid of going, but because you have literally no free time.
No matter what’s going on at work, your health is most important. This year has taught us that. If you’ve been meaning to get something checked out — or even if you’re just long overdue for a visit, making time for it is crucial. If you feel like it’s just impossible because of your job, you need to reevaluate your workload... or at least force yourself to better prioritize your physical well-being.
3. Your SO complains that all you talk about is work.
Don’t become one of those people! Of course, you spend many of your waking hours working, so it’s normal and constructive to debrief or vent to your loved ones. But if people start noticing that your job is all you can talk about, that’s a sign that you’re a little too wrapped up in what’s going on at work. Whether this means you need a new job or a more manageable workload, figure it out so you don’t wind up alienating the people you care about most.
4. You can’t remember the last time you didn’t work through most of the weekend.
Not OK. Weekends — whether that’s the typical Saturday/Sunday for you or two different days throughout the week — are when you’re supposed to take care of all the non-work related errands and fun activities that you can’t fit in during the week.
Spending a few hours catching up on emails or finishing a project isn’t the worst thing. But if it’s been months since you’ve had a few hours to spend binge watching something on Netflix, that’s a sign that you aren’t getting the free time you need and deserve.
5. You consistently have to back out of plans.
We’ve all had to cancel plans because we get stuck working late, and it sucks. But does it happen to you pretty much every time you try to make plans with friends? Or did you miss your daughter’s last three Zoom meet-and-greets? If the answer is 'yes,' you’re going to want to find a way to adjust your schedule or workload so that you’re able to stick to your commitments beyond work.
6. Your home is a disaster.
Maybe you’re messy by nature, but chances are, you don’t like living in a pigsty. If you can’t find time to do laundry or dishes because you’re working pretty much every minute that you’re awake, you need a wakeup call (and you don’t want that wakeup call to be some kind of bug infestation in your dirty kitchen).
7. Your coworkers seem to be doing just fine — but you’re continuously drowning.
There’s a saying that if you want something to get done, it’s better to ask a busy person to do it. Do you feel like everyone at work comes to you for everything, even though you’re insanely swamped, while your coworkers are managing to catch up on TV during their lunch break? That’s because it’s clear that you’re competent and efficient. It doesn’t mean you should let your colleagues take advantage of you or that you should try to be superhuman.
How to manage
The trick is finding the delicate balance between working hard (or, let’s say, killing it at work)... and also making time for yourself. If you suspect work is taking over your life, it probably is. It’s easier said than done, but you can figure out how to adjust your mindset or your workload so you can function both in and out of the office. Maybe it's speaking up for yourself and making sure you’re not taking on an unreasonable amount of responsibility. This can come in the form of a candid conversation with your manager, or simply volunteering someone else for a project. Maybe it's setting forced breaks — blocking hours on your calendar where you're unavailable to get more done from 9 to 5. Or maybe it's searching for a new role that let's you put the rest of your life up front, for once.
This article was written by a FGB Contributor.