How to Tell if Work has Taken Over Your Life

You may be thinking that your life needs more balance, more time spent doing things you enjoy and less time working. Perhaps you’ve even mentioned this to your spouse, girlfriend, best buddy, doctor or co-workers. 

If you have, it is likely that at least one of these people raised an eyebrow and explained the facts of life to you. That is, that nearly everyone is overworked these days and you should get used to it. Besides, there’s that one friend who says, unsympathetically, “I work a lot more hours than you do, so you have no reason to complain”. 

Some jobs have natural cycles of busyness and down time (tax professionals between January and April, summer tourism, retail stores at Christmas, etc.) Peaks and valleys may just be normal, but when it never seems to let up you begin to feel that nagging doubt. That feeling that you shouldn’t always be so stressed, so tired, so short on time, coupled with the knowledge that you can’t seem to think clearly anymore, that you forget family birthdays and that you rarely eat dinner before 10:00 p.m.

You should probably listen to your own intuition and take control over your life before you have no OTHER life than what exists in the workplace. If you still need convincing, or perhaps some more objective feedback, try this little quiz:






I am spending more time than ever at work and/or on work-related projects and activities. 




I usually feel that I’ve run out of time at the end of the day, and I worry about all the things that did not get done.




I don’t have any time for myself, my family or my friends.




I don’t get to visit with, or talk to, my family and friends very often.




Social meetings always seem rushed and I find myself thinking about what I have to get done, and how I should be elsewhere, instead of enjoying the time with my family or friends.




On most days, every minute of every waking hour is scheduled with an activity, or I have something urgent to accomplish.




I’m not sure who I am anymore, and I often wonder why I chose this job or this career.




It is hard to recall my last vacation day or day off, or the last time I just sat and read a book or relaxed. 




I don’t have much fun anymore and I rarely do something just because I want to do it or because I think it will be pleasurable or fun.




I feel stressed out much of the time and I find myself losing patience easily. 




It is sometimes hard to sleep at night and to unwind at the end of the day.




My life is a blur. I feel like I have to keep moving from one thing to the next with no time to catch my breath.




When I do sit down to read a book for pleasure, or to watch a movie, or TV, I find my mind wandering back to work-related subjects, or I fall asleep from exhaustion.




I want more time for entertainment, hobbies and activities, but I never seem to get it. 




I often have to postpone social engagements, doctor’s appointments or other personal things, or I am often late to these appointments




I am usually very tired in the morning when I start work and, even after the weekend, I feel exhausted.




It is hard to find the time to help my children with homework, talk to my spouse or friend about their day or just sit and catch up on paying bills.




People depend on my income, but they also expect me to be there for important dates like birthdays and soccer games, and I feel torn and misunderstood, much of the time.  




I almost always have work left over at the end of the day, and/or I nearly always work for part of the weekend, or on my days off.




I sometimes feel as though my employer has more control over my life and time than I do.



If you answered ‘True’ to less than five of these questions, you are probably not overworked and your life is in good balance. Sure, it’s always going to be a balancing act between your work life and your personal life, but you are handling it.

If you answered ‘True’ to more than eight of these questions, your life is seriously out of balance. It’s time to sit down with your calendar and set priorities that include some time for rest and recreation. Run it by your spouse or a friend and get input from the people who care about you the most.

If you answered ‘True’ to more than twelve of these questions, you should immediately start a program to regain control over your life, before stress and overwork damage your health and your relationships. If possible, talk with your supervisor or human resources department about ways to manage your workload in more sustainable ways. You may be at a point where you need professional help with a counselor or coach in order to avoid a health crisis, either mental or physical.

If you are out of balance with work, take the time today to care for yourself and your family!

Live, Work & Relate Well!

Dr. Todd


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