Stress. Fatigue. Headaches. Many of us are all too aware of the physical toll long working hours have on our day to day health, but few know of the long-term effects – but you should because they’re positively frightening.
According to new research, working 45 hours or more increases cardiovascular-related health issues, such as heart attacks. What’s more, our susceptibility to heart disease increases with the more hours of overtime we work, with employees working 55 hours or more at a 16% higher risk than someone working 45 hours. Employees putting in 60 hours or more over a prolonged period of time are at the greatest risk, sitting statistically at 35% more likely to be succumb to heart disease, says the research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in March.
This reminder that long working hours is harmful to our health comes to light just as the French passed new legislation that protects workers “right to disconnect” after 6pm. Companies with a workforce of 50 people or more will be strongly encouraged to have a formal policy in place in regards to out of hour contact, which means a ban on sending and receiving work-related emails during evenings and weekends.
So, without such a bill in place elsewhere in the world and our health at stake, how can the rest of us bring back our work life balance without jeopardising our career?
Master The Art of Saying No
As the old adage goes, ‘every time you say yes to someone else, you say no to yourself.’ If finishing that project for your boss by the end of play means you working late into the night, be honest. Can it wait until tomorrow morning? Great. Being assertive is much better than burning out.
Get Some Fresh Air
If your idea of a lunch break means walking to the fridge and pulling out a pre-prepared salad to eat while hunched over your desk, you’re not alone. Instead, log off and get some fresh air. Even twenty minutes outside can have a huge impact on your afternoon’s productivity which is far more beneficial to your company and your health.
Prioritise Your Daily Tasks
Don’t spend the best part of the day labouring over something that can wait until tomorrow when a separate, non-negotiable 5pm deadline looms. You might think you have plenty of time to do both, but why take the risk? Getting out of the door on time is the goal here, not clearing your entire workload within a single day.
Work Smarter, Not Longer
Early starts, no breaks and never, ever leaving on time. Sound familiar? While you might think that being chained to your desk 24/7 will get you in the boss’s good books, it’s likely that you’re not being as productive as you could be. Research shows that employees working 70 hours or more actually produce no more than they would if they’d stopped working at 55 hours. Remember; being present and being productive aren’t necessarily the same thing.
Go Home, Log Off and Get Some Rest
The advancement of technology means that we’ve never been so available to work anywhere and at any given time. But as the line between ‘work’ and ‘life’ grows increasingly blurred, our productivity is again called into question.
“Professionals who find the right balance between private and work life perform far better in their job than those who arrive shattered,” argues Bruno Mettling, director general of mobile company Orange.
So head home – and don’t take your work with you. You’ll be better for it tomorrow, we promise.