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5 Reasons You Need To Stop Working So Hard

October 19, 2017

It’s no surprise that people in Singapore work hard. Too hard, some might say. According to 2016 data from the Ministry of Manpower, Singaporeans clocked in more than 2,300 work hours in a year – higher than even Japan and South Korea, which are infamous for their overtime culture. While many of us cite a sense of obligation or fear of losing out as reasons for working overtime, these worries are usually unfounded.

Here are 5 common reasons people give for working overtime … and why you shouldn’t let it dictate your decisions.

“I need the money.”

While money is definitely a concern, it shouldn’t come at the expense of your health. According to a study published in the European Heart Journal in July this year, “people who work 55 hours or more in a week are 40 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, compared to those who worked a regular week of 35 to 40 hours.” Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate, and can lead to stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications.

Heart matters aside, too much stress can also wreak havoc on your physical and emotional wellbeing. Read more about what stress really does to your body here.

“There’s just too much work.”

Perhaps you think that by burning the midnight oil, you might be able to clear your to-do list more quickly the next day. But the truth is, work is never-ending. As soon as we complete one task, there will probably be three or four more tasks demanding our attention. Furthermore, studies have shown that long working hours and a lack of sleep have an adverse effect on your ability to learn, think, and reason. So while you may be putting in extra hours, your output may not be as efficient if you were to tackle the tasks with a refreshed mind.

“I need to make a good impression with my colleagues.”

You want to be seen as a team player and not a slacker, so you eat lunch at your desk, pull all-nighters, and sometimes even come back on the weekend to work. Well, guess what? Such behaviour only creates the impression that you’re a workaholic or a “curry-favourer”. Simply put, it does not go down well with your co-workers. What does help is making effort to spend time with your colleagues outside of work – whether it’s having lunch together or even grabbing a drink after work. This helps build rapport, which can improve your working relationship with your peers.

“I need to make sure everything is done perfectly.”

Aha, don’t go down the slippery slope of perfectionism. Perfection is like a unicorn: it’s nice, but it doesn’t exist. Spending hours writing and re-writing that report, or trying to dig out additional research to add to the already-solid research you have; all these are just a waste of time and doesn’t really have an effect on your overall work performance. Remember, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

“I hope to get promoted soon.”

The old-school mentality of “If I keep busy all day and work long hours, maybe my boss will notice my hard work and promote me” is, frankly, a misguided one. While your superiors may acknowledge your dedication, they may also wonder why it takes you so many hours to finish a project.

In addition, employers are increasingly on the lookout for employees who display work-life balance. By having a life outside of work, you’re able to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the workplace, which is invaluable to any employer.