A work-life balance is a struggle to find and maintain upon normal circumstances, but following the COVID-19 pandemic where the professional world has shifted toward virtual work– the line between work life and personal life is as blurry as ever. Many workers find their work days lengthening, hopping on a call the time they’d typically start their commute and then working through or even after dinner. 

While many people’s work lives have intensified over the last handful of months, feelings of being overworked or burnt out certainly aren’t new. Staying busy with work and keeping your mind sharp can produce positive results, but it can also backfire if your idea of working hard means running yourself into the ground. 

Being overworked can actually lead to a decrease in output. With high stress levels and endless workloads, the best way for workers to rejuvenate is to do the one thing that they probably don’t think they have time for: Take time off.

Let’s Talk About Burnout

Burnout is a result of excessive stress and exhaustion, which can be caused by a lack of work-life balance, according to Mayo Clinic. When you’re overworked and overstressed, you’re not able to give your full self to your work while on the job. Common sense tells us that operating while exhausted produces less favorable outcomes than operating fully rested and energized. 

According to Forbes,  “Overworking yourself and failing to find a healthy balance in life will substantially impair your ability to perform, causing you to fall behind. As your ability to focus wanes, your engagement in your work will suffer. It’s a cycle that will continue until you regain control of the situation.” 

Just like our gas tanks and phone batteries, we all have limited energy and need time to recharge. Taking time to dive into our mental health and personal lives can actually guide us toward a more productive work life. 

Define Vacation

Taking vacation time doesn’t have to mean a week-long all-inclusive vacation. Instead, take off the afternoon, or spend a long weekend outdoors with your family. Consider vacation less as an extragravance, and more as a trip for your mental and even physical health. 

Research shows that overwork does not result in more output. According to Harvard Business Review, “the story of overwork is literally a story of diminishing returns: keep overworking, and you’ll progressively work more stupidly on tasks that are increasingly meaningless.” A study by HBR also confirmed that when employees have required time off, workers become more productive. 

When overworked and burnt out, stress levels soar. Along with stress can come high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, and other physical effects. Conveniently, research proves that vacations reduce stress along with the negative outcomes that come with it. Even just having a vacation planned and approaching takeoff can positively impact your reaction to stressful situations. People who vacation often experience lower risk of heart disease and lower rates of depression, says Forbes

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Working hard and putting in extra hours isn’t always a bad thing. In many instances, these actions reflect a dedicated work ethic. The problem is when a 60-hour work week or unused vacation time becomes a routine habit and negatively affects your workplace productivity, mental health, and physical health. Taking time off from work may seem counterproductive, but it’s proven benefits to personal health and workplace output prove the opposite is true.

For more information on how to balance work and personal life, increase productivity, and manage stress, reach out to Knowted at info@knowted.co.

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