5 Signs You’re Being Overworked

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How do you know you’re being overworked? Some of these signs can be fairly obvious while others require a bit of careful observation and understanding when you are straying a bit from your work comfort zone.

Letting signs of being overworked go unspoken can lead good employees to experience burnout and even depart their industries altogether.

Don’t feel as though it’s necessary to ignore your feelings and keep the cycle churning. Watch carefully for these obvious, and less obvious, signs you’re being overworked.

Your Workload Exponentially Increases

It’s fairly normal in any line of work for your workload to increase a little bit. After some time spent learning the ropes, you’ll be trained to take on new responsibilities. These responsibilities will weave into your daily routine. It’s a little more work, but not enough to make you stay late or feel as though you’re drowning in it.

The most glaring sign this situation has turned into overwork is when the workload dramatically increases, and you are still expected to keep up with it. Linda Shaffer, chief people operations officer at Checkr, said employees may watch their workload significantly increase and still be expected to complete it within a day, week or month. As a result, you may be working longer hours to catch up. 

If you can’t keep up with the demands being placed on you, Shaffer said, chances are something has changed in your workplace. Try to schedule a one-on-one with your manager to discuss what you have the bandwidth to handle. Your manager may offer solutions or, in some cases, not realize you have more work than you can execute. It’s a good idea to talk about it with management to ensure the workload doesn’t become a problem.

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Not Being Able To Disconnect

Patricia Thompson — Ph.D., corporate psychologist and president of Silver Lining Psychology — said a sign of being overworked is struggling to disconnect from work. Significant indicators are the moments when work unreasonably impinges on your personal life.

“If you are expected to be available at all hours and you’re not in an on-call sort of profession,” Thompson said, “then the expectations that you’re being held to may be unsustainable.” 

If you are struggling to disconnect and enjoy a proper work-life balance, Thompson recommends talking to your boss about the situation. Tell your boss how you feel and see whether you can solve the problem together. 

Like a sudden increase in your workload, you may find your boss may not be fully aware of how difficult it is for you to disconnect from work. Thompson said some leaders aren’t aware of how much work may be on your plate, so it’s important to communicate.

Making Excuses Not To Take Breaks or Lunch

Why stop and take a break? You’re on a roll getting something important done! Why pause for lunch? You’re in the middle of a big assignment! 

“If you’re finding it difficult to take regular breaks and take time away from work, you could be overworked,” Shaffer said. “Even if it is just taking a short walk during your lunch break or getting up to stretch, it’s important to take regular breaks and get away from the desk to avoid burnout and fatigue.”

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Losing Enjoyment in Work

You will know the moment you start to lose enjoyment in work because you’ll see your attitude start to shift. Previously, you might have had a positive attitude toward the work you did. Now, you feel negative. Work might feel like a chore or have lost some of its meaning to you.

When you’re overworked, Thompson said, you might start to resent the job. There may be several reasons for this shift, but Thompson’s recommendation is to engage in some self-reflection. Use this time to see whether your workload impacts how you feel about your job.

Not Feeling Physically or Mentally Well 

It’s not uncommon for someone who is overworked to feel the impact in their immune system. Obvious signs you’re close to burnout include anxiety, headaches, inability to sleep and fatigue. 

If you feel your health is deteriorating, Thompson said, it’s time to make self-care a priority. This means setting boundaries with yourself about non-negotiable habits, like getting enough sleep, hydrating, exercising and connecting with loved ones, which supports your well-being.

Thompson said, “Doing the sorts of things that make you feel better will help you to be more efficient when you do sit down to work.”

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