Did you know that we are conditioned to overwork by being rewarded for it? Did you ever get praise for working late, or through a weekend? It can be very rewarding. Those rewards increase our desire to repeat the work. We work, we are rewarded for it and we want to work more. It becomes an addiction, and therefore work feels urgent and important even if it truly isn’t at the time.
The trick to stopping our overworking habit is to re-train ourselves to stop reacting to the urge to work when it isn’t time to work.
Last week, I talked about setting boundaries around your schedule. Did you decide on your working hours? Do you feel like the hours you work are your choice?
I know you are really great at what you do. I am not trying to convince you to be lazy or abandon your responsibilities. Keep being great DURING your work hours. Be amazing at work.
What I want to teach you is that you have the ability to make choices.
If you overwork, then when it’s outside of your working hours you will feel the urge to work. A chat message will pop up. You will want to peek at your email. You will think about an important assignment. You will think that you have some free time and you can get caught up. You might think that you are taking too much downtime and you “should” be working.
Your desire to work will feel urgent and important.
You will tell yourself you have to work.
You will just respond to this one question because it will be quick.
You will think that if you don’t respond now then you will forget.
You’ll think that you need to respond because the team can’t do it without you.
You think it’s outside of your control. The work just takes over.
You don’t think it’s a choice.
It’s just a crazy work environment.
And you will end up working for hours on a Saturday.
But you never HAVE to work. You are choosing to work.
Sometimes it does make sense to work outside of hours when a true emergency comes up. But it’s not nearly as often as you think it is.
So, give yourself a hug, and repeat after me, “My free time is just as important as my work”.
Every time you feel the urge to work outside of your planned hours, you get to make a choice in that moment. You are a human adult and what you do with the minutes in your day is your choice.
It’s always up to you.
What will you choose?
This week, notice your urges to work, and then pause. Practice making an intentional decision about how you respond to the urge and honor the decision you make. If you do this for even one week, you will notice a difference.
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