A 40-hour work week sounds like a dream to many people. The 2014 Gallup poll reports that 59% of full-time workers in America clock more than 40 hours per week, with 25% coming in at 60+ hours. Given those statistics, it is no wonder that work burnout is a common malady in industry today.
If you are one of the many who find the grueling hours too much to handle, it is vital to take action. That can involve simplifying, where you determine the most important tasks and focus on those. It can mean delegating, where you assign tasks to others. It can mean working with your boss to gain more flexibility in how and when you work. It can mean hiring additional headcount or bringing in a consultant.
But sometimes, none of these approaches work (even in companies that emphasize the importance of a work/life balance). For instance, you may try to simplify, only to find your boss negating your efforts by telling you that you still have to do everything. Or, you may want to hire, but be told there is no budget to do so. What do you do then?
At a certain point in time, it may become necessary to step back and ask yourself, “What quality of life do I want, and what do I need to do to achieve it?” Certainly, your professional role is a key ingredient to your quality of life. But if the hours your job requires are impacting your health, family, relationships, or other areas of importance to you, then it is time to do some serious evaluation.
For example, an employee at a large accounting firm was on the partner track in the company. She found that the commitment was requiring 90-hour work weeks – with no end in sight in the near term. As she had young children, she elected to get off the partner track, despite the highly lucrative outcome if she became a partner. In fact, she decided to go one step further and left the firm to join another company where she would have more flexibility and a five-minute commute – all of which enabled her to be more responsive to the needs of her children.
If you are suffering from burnout due to long, hard hours, never forget this: you have options. Some options are available within your current company while others exist outside of it. But you have options. In the end, the choice is always yours.