Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
14 Aug

Would Grok Work Overtime?

HiRes 1There’s that infamous question interviewers often ask job candidates to try to catch them off guard: “Name one of your negative qualities and talk about how it’s played out in the workplace.” Some people end up stunned by the question and stammer their way through some off-the-cuff remark they hope isn’t too fatal. Others, however, heard about some version of this question on LinkedIn or from their best friend’s girlfriend’s cousin down at 31 Flavors and spent days strategizing an answer: “Crap – what could I say that might satisfy the committee but not make me look bad?” I’d venture to say a sizable percentage of these folks settle on “confessing” their overcommitment to their jobs and a minor penchant to overwork. After all, what could be more endearing, right? What could make us look better in an interview or even a social venue than to come across as being diligent, virtuous and important enough to work as much as possible? (So says the dominant culture anyway.) We pay a price for this virtue, however. A recent survey suggests that more than half of us are stressed out over our work situations. Research demonstrates that Americans are working more hours than they have in decades since national statistics were regularly gathered. Likewise, we’re apparently working more than our counterparts in the rest of the industrialized world. (There’s a bummer of a fact for you.) If Grok were a fly on the wall…

The problem is our work “ethic” might not be quite as effective as we think, and I don’t think Grok would be surprised here. Not only do overworked employees get sick more often, but they’re significantly more likely to experience depression (21% overworked employees versus 8%) and have a much higher injury hazard in the workplace (61% higher in workers who did overtime) (PDF). More than a third of people who overworked described themselves as being highly stressed (compared to 6% who did not overwork), stress, of course, having an annoying way of impeding cognitive functions like short-term memory, creative thinking and emotional regulation. Check out this fun infographic. Sound familiar?

Just this week, The Atlantic had an article on the issue of work hours, “To Work Better, Work Less” in which they took on the cult of overwork. While some people put in an unhealthy number of hours because they’re working multiple jobs to pay their basic bills, others are on more of an obsessive quest to over- and out-perform even when additional hours did nothing for their actual productivity. In fact, overworking costs companies exorbitantly each year in sick time, bigger health care costs, higher turnover and lost productivity (PDF). Regardless of the actual consequences, inherent to the culture of overworking, The Atlantic authors suggest, is the “moral” dimension we assign to diligence. Our hours become a symbol of how righteous we are, and we give up life balance, family closeness, social connection and even basic health in the interest of that belief.

The Primal perspective on all this, of course, is the observation that we’re incessant experts at contorting our own nature. In fact, we take great pride and maybe even our collective human identity in the fact that we, unlike “lower” beasts, can manipulate ourselves with sheer will and vision. But vision for what? Our grand schemes almost always come at a price, and much of the time it’s not worth the payment. In the case of overworking, I think the price is a continual devaluing of physical health, personal leisure, entertainment, travel, sleep, peace, hobbies, and – that traditional well of creative genius – boredom.

On the health front, sure, there’s the trend toward treadmill desks and other activity tools that keep us moving, thereby ameliorating the effects of sedentary hours. As much as I wholeheartedly support these inventions (and make sure people in my own company have access to them), I’m wary that the devices then can become justification to perpetuate the same mistaken push toward relentless human efficiency. I love a good tip here or hack there that allows me to get more done in less time or with less tedious effort, but the ultimate point is to be happier rather than more productive.

There’s a very real reason I included “Be Selfish” among the “Habits of Highly Effective Hunter-Gatherers.” Of course, our ancestors worked together and every individual needed to pull his/her weight. The fact is, anyone could be more or less voted off the island at any given time. That said, nobody benefited from a band of exhausted, sick, edgy and agitated people who didn’t have what it took to care for their children or get along. Surely, the “selfish” habit has been the most controversial of the list and the one about which I get the most feedback. Nonetheless, I think it’s one of the most important. Many of the rest follow from that concept and all it makes space for. The fact is, it can be genuinely hard to go against the cultural grain and claim sanity for yourself. Oftentimes, people whose motors go the most have little patience for those whose energy is more balanced. I’m personally suspect of people who won’t allow themselves to take a real vacation, for example and of those who won’t allow their employees to enjoy genuine downtime. I just don’t buy the truth they’ve hung their hat on, and neither does science.

I consider myself fortunate to be able to work in a field I love, doing work that offers me genuine meaning and connection. That said, my life isn’t my work, and I wouldn’t want it to be. Once upon a time, it was that way for me, and the anvils of deteriorating health and mental stress finally got through to my brain: this wasn’t working for me. I genuinely feel for those who are cobbling together money at multiple jobs, and it’s constantly an hours game. When we have the choice, however, we can and should do better for ourselves.

I think, on some level for many people in a position to choose, the pattern can become self-perpetuating. Some folks, for example, manage to leave a position with unreasonable demands only to go recreate the same situation for themselves elsewhere. It’s like they adapt in a dysfunctional way to certain level of chaos and grope for that homeostasis. It becomes an artificial set-point against which they gauge their lives. Rather than give themselves time for this awareness to come, they react against the void. Sometimes people don’t have enough patience with their own process to allow their personal motors to recalibrate, for their minds to envision and embrace all that they could do with that free time.

We all have this essential instinct that yearns to be applied for our own balanced well-being and personal thriving. Time is our ultimate Primal capital. We’re stewards of our own life energy. How would Grok have invested his, and what would he be thinking in your shoes right now?

Thanks for reading today, everyone. I hope you’ll share your thoughts and feedback. Have a great end to the week.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. “Time is our Primal capital” Now there’s a phrase you can take to the cave.

    Groktimus Primal wrote on August 14th, 2014
    • If time is money then perhaps a valid explanation to the increase in working overtime is economically driven. A paper dollar that bought $1 worth of goods in 1971 buys only 17 cents’ worth today (Nixon severing the pseudo gold standard that originated from the Bretton Woods Agreement) . And that’s if you use the government’s manipulated measure of inflation.

      People today are no different than Groks of the past in wanting more leisure. Unfortunately the loss of purchasing power forces people to work more to maintain a basic standard of living, making leisure more scarce and therefore highly valued.

      The weekends and a 40hr work week (more leisure) was a result from the increase in productivity and capital goods available against a stable currency, not unions or government even though they take the credit.

      With basic living standards becoming cheaper and more readily available, workers wanted more leisure (free time) and not increased wages (pure marignal utility).

      Unions today are vastly more powerful so if they did usher in weekends and the 40 hr work week decades ago, how come today we do not have a 4 day weekend or more? Especially given all the technological advancements in manufacturing that makes goods more readily available and cheaper?

      It is all about purchasing power folks, which is money, which is based sound economics. Not the Keynesian/Krugman fluff. Grok may have called it common sense.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on August 15th, 2014
      • i like the cut of your jib, being a sound money advocate myself, your rant was music to my ears.

        harry p. wrote on August 18th, 2014
        • Thank you Harry. My position is to let there be competing monies and let the market place (people) choose. I disagree with mandated currency backed by force.

          I have to work on my writing skills, specifically tone because as I typed my inner tone was calm and collective and not angry (i.e. ranting). Regardless, thanks again!

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on August 18th, 2014
      • techology allows us to do more work.

        the result is instead of 4 work days/week,
        we’re expected to deliver at least 120% more in 5 days.

        i really don’t know the answer to this problem!

        our work environment is very high stress — when there is work then overwork = stress. that’s obvious.

        then when there’s no work, one starts to wonder if one might be the next one for the “Guillotine” (stealthy pink slip) so that’s also stress perhaps even more.

        it’s a trap.

        now i dont’ think i can handle this job with my old diet.

        best way for me is just to enough $ for early retirement!

        pam wrote on August 24th, 2014
  2. I really struggle with this issue, it’s not only embedded in our culture to stress our system’s to the point of illness, but to speak for myself it’s embedded in my psyche to judge myself for doing less than “my best” which I’ve come to see as “the most.” While I’m working on changing my perspective on work versus play it seems to be the hardest one for me. Thanks for writing articles like this – it helps me slowly make the changes that in the long run will make me and my family healthier.

    Michele wrote on August 14th, 2014
  3. Best post I’ve read on this blog yet, Mark. Kudos to you!

    Michael wrote on August 14th, 2014
  4. I started working primarily from home a year ago (Still teach a few college classes in person every term) and I am SO much more productive now that I can set my own schedule and am my own boss (freelance writing.) When I worked a 9-5 I’d say about 50% of my time on the clock was wasted with distractions, BS meetings and just killing time because all my work was done but I wasn’t allowed to leave. The American cult of overworking is ridiculous.

    Erica wrote on August 14th, 2014
  5. What would Grok be thinking in my shoes right now? “What the hell are these things?”

    Will Honeycomb wrote on August 14th, 2014
    • +1

      Stacie wrote on August 14th, 2014
  6. In my 20s I worked overtime, and on “vacation,” and never said no even while i was breaking out in stress rashes. Now in my 30s, I said no when asked to work on vacation. I was expecting to be fired on the spot, but to my surprise, my answer was accepted. It made me appreciate the company more, my work, and improved my productivity. I got a promotion a month later.

    Charlotte wrote on August 14th, 2014
  7. I agree wholeheartedly. Great blog. Continuous overwork is clearly a negative to me. But I wonder if an occasional bout of overtime or excessive focus on work can’t be rewarding in a way that occasional sprinting might be. It’s a stressor, to be sure, to be faced with a difficult task and a short time-table for completion. But once in a while, this might lead to some growth and unexpected benefits. Grok had to prepare for winter and may have had to do some excessive last minute work by firelight to get ready.

    Lou wrote on August 14th, 2014
  8. This post brings up a couple of thoughts….

    One, I have a friend of 30 years or so and she is constantly busy. She has gotten more done in her lifetime than I would in 10 lifetimes. Almost everyday she fills it to the max with any number of tasks. She is living the life she wants and seems happy. At least as far as I can tell. I have never met anyone else like her. Then there is me who doesn’t seem to get much done at all. At least in comparison to her.

    If we were working the same job, I would be fired for incompetence. Actually, I think everyone would be fired for incompetence if the boss was comparing us to her. I wonder if this is some of what goes on in the workplace. Trying to keep up with the competition in an insecure job market.

    Second, and I don’t mean for this to turn into a political discussion, I am just putting this out there as food for thought. It seems to me that all things cycle and the relationship between employer and employee does as well. Because we humans try to get away with what we can, companies, and I am not saying all companies, when they can, take advantage of their employees. If things get bad enough, the employees eventually rebel and form unions to gain power. Then for various reasons, one being us humans try to get away with what we can, unions become out of favor and the companies gain the power back. If you are caught in the cycle where the companies have all the power and are not treating you well, you are probably overworked.

    Sharon wrote on August 14th, 2014
    • My Dad sounds like your friend. He isn’t “happy/relaxed” unless he is doing something. For fun? Weed the garden, mow the lawn, etc. My mom on the other hand knows that rest means doing something restful. This is a thorn in the flesh of my dad, he doesn’t think that rest needs to be inactivity. They are both “old” so my mom just feigns sleep if he gets too micro-managey….. I guess it works for now that way.
      I’m a combination of both, I know how to relax but can relax deeper if I know that the laundry is under control, food is planned out mostly, etc.
      I don’t try to “help” my son when he claims he is bored. I just tell him to figure something out if he doesn’t like being bored, otherwise enjoy it. Yes, I do get a look for that.

      2Rae wrote on August 14th, 2014
    • Doers tend to not have the patience to think. Doing benefits others in a materialistic culture, thinking is not highly valued in a capitalist culture, unless that thinking is about doing something. Same old story, we need thinkers, but don’t want to pay them as much as doers. Snap decisions can be based on a lifetime of thinking. Thinkers often bloom late in life.

      Kit wrote on August 15th, 2014
      • Kit, that is certainly something to think about…. In relation to my friend, interestingly, her one fault, if it can be considered a fault, is a lack of patience. However I never thought of her as someone who is not a thinker. She is very curious and has self educated herself about many things. Mostly how to do things but also has involved herself in local politics, seems interested in solving all sorts of problems. Can’t say she is very materialistic. She is very self sufficient, kind, giving, helpful.

        I guess I am not totally clear on what constitutes a thinker. Maybe that is my sister. She thinks in depth about all sorts of things. She is well educated and lives in near poverty. She is brilliant, an excellent writer but has never been able to make much money.

        I find her interesting to talk with but she says most people do not want to talk to her. My friend is also interesting to have conversations with. Both have vast knowledge about all sorts of things.

        Is being curious the same as being a thinker? Or do you just have to be curious to be a thinker?

        Sharon wrote on August 15th, 2014
  9. You have inspired me to leave my profession and attend culinary school in Thailand. Thank you!

    Jack Lea Mason wrote on August 14th, 2014
  10. Good post…. But, you act like people are overworking because THEY want to. Not true! My last job it was my employer who demanded 40 PLUS (big emphasis on the plus) hours a week. Not me. I hated it, I knew it was destroying my happiness, and combined with a long commute taking all my free time. I said several times “I want my LIFE back!”

    So I found a new job at a nonprofit making less money but averaging less than 40 hour weeks. And then I moved and cut the commute to 15 mins from an hour. I’ve honestly never been happier! It’s amazing how much more you love your work, when it’s not ALL you do.

    And you’re right… it did cost my previous employer. They spent months training me, and I left.

    But I’m lucky. Jobs like I have now are rare. The overworked culture in America comes from the TOP DOWN. It’s the bosses, and corporations, I don’t think it’s Americans themselves who want to show their salt by putting in crazy hours, every time. ;-)

    fixed gear wrote on August 14th, 2014
    • I agree. A few years ago I worked as a therapist at a wilderness program for adolescents (sounds pretty primal, now doesn’t it?) I spent 2 days/week in the national forest working with the teens in my group who were camping out there. The rest of the week I did mostly phone sessions with their parents and paperwork. A great job, except that it was a very corporate culture and they kept piling more work on me, until I felt like I was drowning, I asked for help a bunch of times and eventually realized that they were not interested in working with me to make the job sustainable, so I quit. Luckily, as a licensed counselor, i had little trouble finding another job, found one where I have control over my schedule. i am still working more than I would like to be, but have some expenses I have to deal with. i am striving over time to reduce my living expenses. I so miss childhood Summers, that time of just being, exploring, not so worried about getting stuff done. It about kills me to be spending much of my Summer indoors. i get out when I can.

      Lisa Wolfe wrote on August 14th, 2014
  11. “Hard work” seems to be one of those essential American values. But often it becomes hard work for the sake of hard work, without any thought as to why we are working in the first place.

    The Pooch wrote on August 14th, 2014
    • Germany is a lot like this, seeing ‘Hard Work’ as an important value, and work as inherently morally good irrespective of need and productivity.

      Fortunately, being in Europe, there are more restrictions on working hours and much more vacation days / year than in the US. Still, compared to some close neighbours – the mediterranean and scandinavian countries, especially – the general German work-life balance is much more skewed in the direction of work.

      Chris wrote on August 14th, 2014
  12. This really hits home with me today! At home sick (I was on vacay and went back to work Mon) In 3 days I have worked 30 hrs (comutted 6hrs) and have to do 12 hrs tomorrow. I realized on Monday night that my entire sense of self changed. I was short, edgy, exhausted and went right to bed after dinner. I slept fitfully and woke up mad. I was aware of the fact that being back in my “work routine” is draining on all levels. However, I am financially unable to change it. Refraiming what my important things are is what keeps me sane. My point being, I could’ve have worked overtime today (and made bank) but healing and piece of mind are worth far more. Grok on everyone!

    Christa wrote on August 14th, 2014
    • My job was stressful enough without a long commute. I chose to live fairly close to work with a 15-minute drive, as opposed to being an hour away as with co-workers who wanted to live in the mountains. Rotating shifts were destroying my health, so I made the decision to work straight days, which was an improvement even though I had to be at work at 4 and 5 a.m. 10- and 12-hour shifts were a nightmare for me. Again, I had a choice. Although my days off were shorter, an 8-hour shift gave me some “breathing room” and time with my family during the work week, whereas a longer shift made me feel like I was home only long enough to shower and (hopefully) catch a few winks. I avoided overtime as much as I could. My time off was more important to me than the extra money.

      As you say, we all have to make positive changes wherever we can, even if they are only small changes. It makes all the rest easier to deal with.

      Shary wrote on August 15th, 2014
  13. GROK would say: I’m waisting my time.

    Am wrote on August 14th, 2014
  14. The cold, dead hand of Puritanism still hovers over America.

    Harry Mossman wrote on August 14th, 2014
    • +1 Love it, “cold dead hand of Puritanism”

      John wrote on August 14th, 2014
  15. When I was in my twenties and early thirties, my average work week was 50-60 hours. I never took vacation, and if I did, the work came with me. The Protestant/American/WhateverYouWantToCallIt work ethic is overrated and needs to stop. I love what I do for a living but I had to set my mind in motion to find the right job for me or I was going to end up miserable. Now, I work from home and I can cook Primally (when I want) and workout (when I want). And, I generally work my 40 hours and I’m done. My job offers plenty of PTO and I have no qualms about leaving for a 2 week vacation. The stress level is plenty low and the creative juices are flying high.

    James wrote on August 14th, 2014
  16. Long hours =/= hard work.

    I read ‘The Four-Hour Work Week’ several years ago, and though I haven’t quit my 9-5 gig to travel the world, it really changed my perspective on working. Too many people work for the sake of working, and too many of their bosses want to see them working for the sake of working.
    Myself: I cut out the distractions at work and focus on the most important parts of my job. I may not respond to your email about teh monthly potluck right away, but I will get the important parts of my job done well and on time without having to stay late because I kept getting distracted.
    I have a family who I like better than anyone at work, and I’d rather spend my time with them.

    His Dudeness wrote on August 14th, 2014
  17. This comes at the right time. I would like to “hack” my life so I can make enough money to live a simple life that is satisfying and yet not ignoring my responsibilities to care for our health and living expenses. I would like to live on one income, there are times when a two income family becomes a one income family unexpectedly and I don’t want to find out the hard way what happens when you are completely dependant on the two.
    That means (hopefully a willing spouse) and I need to sit down and make some decisions and then take the first step.

    2Rae wrote on August 14th, 2014
    • As a veteran housewife whose family has been living on oner income for about 25 years, I suggest you start with your taxes, namely your W-4. Tax shelters (IRAs, 401k’s, pre-tax health insurance, etc.) come in handy to hep fill the income void, but you don’t get paid until the tax refund comes back.

      What you can’t recoup from your taxes, you can take care of at home: more astute shopping habits, more astute eating habits, efficient energy use, stopping the use of one-time items (like paper towels, wedding clothes, etc.), and just learning how to buy items in alternate ways that don’t involve retail.

      One quickie piece of advice here: NEVER BUY NEW, unless it’s food. This means thrift stores, yard sales, gardening, swapping, bartering, haggling (better learn to do that), hitting the internet to learn how to fix things, or making due. One famous phrase among frugalites is this: “Use it up, wear it out, make due, or do without.”

      NOW you’ve got a homework assignment.

      wenchypoo wrote on August 14th, 2014
      • Remember: what you don’t use, you don’t pay for.

        wenchypoo wrote on August 14th, 2014
        • I’m with you sister! I grew up in a family who lived simply and for the most part primally. However, my husband is not like that and enjoys shopping for “new” and things not on sale, while at the same time is quite content to earn well below his potential and allow me to carry the health insurance costs at my job. (Hmmmm, maybe I should make him the house-husband?) It’s a struggle. I will say that the more I force my family to eat primally the smaller our food costs have become. Eating good food means we eat less food and are hungry for snacks less.
          I really look forward to your posts here.

          2Rae wrote on August 14th, 2014
      • mrmoneymustache.com

        Right up your alley.

        Snake Plissken wrote on August 14th, 2014
        • +1

          Mark wrote on August 20th, 2014
  18. I’ve been in corporate America for 14+ years now and just a year or two ago I learned something that has changed my perspective on work HOURS (and also has increased my quality of life since). I asked the folks in HR how many hours I was legally supposed to work every week. They said that EXEMPT salaried employees have NO required number of hours “(it’s between you and your manager)”. That’s specific for my company. Not that this justifies a 4-hour work day in the corporate world (okay maybe sometimes), but it sure helped me relax and stop worrying about time tracking. Since then, I haven’t really worried about the number of hours – just put in quality good work, take guilt-free breaks/walks/hikes when I want (long or short), end work when I want, and enjoy it ALL :). I love my job, and the guilt-free freedom is probably my #1 reason I love it. If I was required to track my time, I’d probably look elsewhere. I’m sure there are a bunch of corps that follow this same policy.

    IMO, workaholicism is totally overrated and there is NO reason for it (and no legal requirement for it that I’m aware of). FLSA does NOT require a certain # of hours per week, but supposedly employers can require a set # of hours: http://www.payscale.com/compensation-today/2012/01/salaried-employees-work-hours-laws-from-flsa. If in doubt, HR would know!

    Jon T wrote on August 14th, 2014
  19. Unfortunately, our world today revolves around a made-up currency (full faith and credit), and we sell ourselves into corporate slavery to earn money to pay for things, because that’s the most expedient way to earn a living beyond cave life–ask the homeless.

    The cost of those things we keep killing ourselves at a job for are always rising just enough to be beyond our grasp, so we work harder and longer, trying to bridge the gap between have and want. Marketing KEEPS us striving for more through “want creation”, so we keep buying and buying things, until we find ourselves in debt up to our eyeballs.

    We have to learn to stop wanting, and start being happy with what we have (and have already paid for). When you stop wanting, then you stop having to work to fill that gap.

    wenchypoo wrote on August 14th, 2014
    • And it seems everyone now has to have a storage unit to store all the stuff they/we bought but don’t really use every day, nor have the room to keep it in the house. Groan.

      2Rae wrote on August 14th, 2014
      • Glad I figured this one out for myself when I was 20. I’ve always been a bit ostracized for working only when I needed money. Sometimes two jobs at once if I wanted to travel or do something special, then other times taking off a few months here and there. My wife is european, and they take off 30 days a year AND it’s paid. My father was an architect and never had more than a week off in a year ever. America’s work situation is messed up…really bad.

        Nocona wrote on August 14th, 2014
    • +1. This is what is rarely said about modern life. It’s amazing to watch it’s effects on everybody and how little most seem to notice. And people rarely question all the bills they have accepted they “must pay”. Insurance alone. People of the past would never believe what modern people consider normal expense.

      I saw it as a collective scam long ago and have enjoyed an exteme efficiency of earning power by cutting out so many accepted expenses. For example, I’ve never borrowed money in my life. Never purchased on payments. I bought what I had the money to pay for, and saved up for what I hoped to buy – how’s that for a novel idea? How much of their precious time do most people dedicate to working to pay banks and their ilk for…nothing more than having what we can’t afford- which then becomes more expensive ? I can’t believe that people buy houses with mortgages that last a large part of their life. That they spend years paying the interest alone on that Of course they’re stressed and work too much.

      Steve wrote on August 20th, 2014
  20. I’m a cube farmer for a huge corporation, and life can be very much like a “Dilbert” cartoon sometimes. I remember the quote from “Fight Club”–“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy s*** we don’t need.” I don’t hate my job, but certain aspects can be unpleasant. Being primal helps. It also helps that unlike many my identity’s not tied to my job. It’s just something I do to make money. Most days I’m lucky enough to leave the building, get in my car, and forget about the day five minutes later. I’m not going to get brownie points by working tons of overtime and working myself to death, so I refuse to do so.

    Trish wrote on August 14th, 2014
  21. About this time last year I decided to change my life drastically – all in the name of reducing stress. Since, I have turned Primal, quit my job and am launching my new business on 9/1, begun the process of getting rid of most of what I don’t need in my life in hopes that my husband and I will be living on the road full time in 10 years, and reducing our monthly living expenses including getting rid of cable. We have reached quite a “low” in our spending but as we increase our quality of food, we continue to seek new ways to save money elsewhere. It has been stressful in some ways (getting rid of stuff is not always the easiest thing) but everyday I feel more stress lifting from my shoulders. Getting rid of a job that was literally making me sick was the BEST decision I ever made. Great article as always Mark!

    IslandSeeker wrote on August 14th, 2014
  22. Long-time reader, first time commenter. Of all the posts I’ve ever read here, this was the best and most important. Thank you.

    Laurie wrote on August 14th, 2014
  23. Great Post! Nailed it!

    Widening the scope, companies that do not see this view are sometimes massively successful, but WHY do they not desire to see the side effects of over-worked and under-paid “associates”? Is it Parkinson’s Law that they are afraid of?

    William Perrigo wrote on August 14th, 2014
  24. Many German companies (such as Daimler and Volkswagen) now block their work email /web client from outside their ground or from 7 pm to 8 am. They also use out of office replies when on holiday that make it very clear that this email will not be read and will be deleted after return from their vacation (while providing another person of contact and/or a date when the person in charge will be back again). This is not done for moral reasons or in reaction to demands of unions or some EU best practise requirement, but simply because it raises productivity during the actual work time, and because it makes it easier to operate with clear responsibilities and fewer ambiguities. Very often, when people still perform tasks for their employers during their holidays or after dinner, they don’t do it well and sabotage their own performance thinking that it was very generous of them to do it “at all” and therefore it doesn’t need to be perfect.

    Tina wrote on August 15th, 2014
  25. I work for a very small company. When I started, there were 7 employees (including 2 bosses). Now we’re down to 5 (still with 2 bosses). So that means there’s 3 actual employees to do the work of 5. The accountant refuses to help with the work load and the only other person is new. I’ve been doing the work of 3 for nearly a year and I’m completely burnt out. Time for a change! This article validated what I’ve been feeling. Thanks Mark!

    Melissa wrote on August 15th, 2014
  26. It’s just another one of those things that the majority has wrong, like how to lose weight by eating low fat, high carb food and aerobicizing like crazy. Study after study has shown that overwork is underproductive but try to get big business to understand that; it cannot be done. There are some small organizations that are nimble enough (and smart enough, of course) to try new modes out but in a lot of ways corporations act just like large crowds; the bigger they are, the dumber they are. That doesn’t make them less powerful, of course.

    And yes, it requires a large set of cojones to stand up to an employer who mandates the overwork ethic; just ask anybody who works at Intel or Nike, both of which I am familiar with because of the friends I have there. Ugh.

    Tyrannocaster wrote on August 15th, 2014
  27. Great post. I left a stressful corporate job this year-with a boss who couldn’t be satisfied no matter how many extra hours I put in-and bought a business that gives me flexibility and much less stress. As another commenter noted above, the ability to work out over lunch, cook a nice Primal meal between emails, etc. is wonderful-it’s a MUCH better quality of life.

    Heather wrote on August 15th, 2014
  28. Are you hiring Mark!?

    AliT wrote on August 15th, 2014
  29. This came at the right time for me. I am about a week away from a full burnout/mental collapse. It has gone past the point now where merely taking a day off would even help. I no longer sleep, as I hear the office phone inside my head. I am an irritable bitch, and I’ve gone back to carbs as a form of cold comfort.

    My 6-days a week/10-hours a day gig will likely put me in the hospital before Labor Day.

    Ain’t life grand? I moved to the North to get away from the rat race culture of the big city, but my mentality…it stayed with me.

    I need to find the OFF switch. We all do.

    Katie wrote on August 15th, 2014
  30. It’s good to get people collectively thinking about these things. I worked as a kindergarten teacher before becoming a stay-at-home-mom. It is a recipe for disaster to place highly intuitive, caring, and motivated people in classrooms with 25-30 small children with little to no help! I love teaching. I love people. I will work very hard to make sure “no one gets left behind” (to quote some ridiculous idea). I would do what it takes to get the job done, even if I had to arrive at 7 am to prepare and leave at 5-6 after I had cleaned up everything (we had very limited custodial services, so I often found myself cleaning the classroom, in addition to preparing for the next days) or went to meetings, or had parent conferences, or, or, or..the thing that could be done to fill time voids were absolutely endless! Most teachers I knew had the same over-committed problem and it was really hard to step away from all the bureaucratic nonsense to just do the job. People think teachers get a cushy job working 9 months of the year with summers off. Ha! They put in the time for 12 months during those 9, easily.

    As a stay-at-home mom I often struggle with the accolades my husband gets for having “productive” work. While he always tells me I’m doing a fine job, it’s hard not to feel as if raising children is some kind of fluff job, if it qualifies as a “job” at all. There is no pay and I’m not adding to my retirement fund. My sister likes to boast that she’ll have life-long benefits after her 20 years in the military–which is just around the corner for her. It’s good for me to remember that I need time off from this job (because seriously, 2 kids are a 24/7 work load that make teaching 50-60 hours a week seem kind of refreshing! At least I got to go home at the end of each day and do something else entirely without seeing all of them for at least 15 hours or so!

    Jennifer L. wrote on August 15th, 2014
  31. A lot of the workaholics that I know do it because it’s an excellent barrier to intimacy. They do it to distance their spouses and children.

    shannon wrote on August 16th, 2014
  32. I agree with every word of this. When all’s said and done I’ve a strong a work ethic as the next man, but I won’t stand for the idea of work as an end in itself, in other words, simply work for the sake of work.

    Paul in Australia wrote on August 18th, 2014
  33. Yes yes, 1,000 times yes!

    Joyce wrote on August 18th, 2014
  34. My 2 cents on this: I’ve been overworking for the past few weeks because it has been necessary for me to do so in response to a major unforeseeable event. This is stressful, but I don’t know if it qualifies as the long-term stress that is so detrimental. When this is over, I will go back to working reasonable hours, getting enough sleep, socializing, working out regularly, etc. Does that make sense?

    Kira wrote on August 19th, 2014
    • I think that what you are doing is the way we developed. Bursts of hard work, followed by lax periods with much more play.

      Steve wrote on August 20th, 2014
  35. work to live. Don’t live to work!

    Zenrock wrote on August 26th, 2014

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