Executive Education

The Balance of Life: 6 Signs You’re Overworking

Work performance is a significant issue to many Americans; one out of every four people feels that their job is the most stressful aspect of their life. While it is completely normal to worry about one’s job, it is also important to find a balance between work life and personal life. The trap of overworking is easy to fall into and difficult to escape. While working hard and staying productive are not necessarily bad things, many Americans don’t know the warning signs of overworking. These signs are important to recognize because work-related stress can lead to serious physical and psychological problems. Currently, three in four people suffer from these kinds of stress-induced problems; are you one of them?

  1. You are overly attached to your work

Occasionally staying a little late at the office to meet a deadline is normal; feeling like you have to spend all of your time there is not. If you are reluctant to leave work because you are concerned that the place will fall apart without you, or if you feel like the only time well-spent is when you are hunched over your desk, then you are probably working too hard. Don’t neglect your work, but remember that the office will continue to run smoothly even when you step into the break room to take a breather.

  1. You have adopted some unhealthy habits

It’s normal to be stressed at work sometimes, but if you are bringing that anxiety home with you, it could affect your eating and sleeping habits. Maybe you find yourself consuming irregular amounts of junk food – or not enough food at all – and your weight begins to fluctuate. You drink pot after pot of caffeine to stay on track with your work responsibilities and yet you are still tired all the time, but when night comes you lie awake in bed worrying about your job and dreading the next day. Be careful, these are big signs that your job has taken over your life.

  1. You are consistently irritable

One common sign of work-related stress is a change in temperament. This can be upsetting to both you and those around you because your moods may become unpredictable and often negative. If you have been snapping at your colleagues and family more often than usual, or feeling generally agitated, you may be spending too much time working.

  1. Your personal life is suffering

You couldn’t make it to your son’s school play, you forgot about date night, and now your friends are headed to the beach while you spend your weekend catching up on work. If your personal relationships with family and friends are on the rocks because you can’t seem to find time outside of work, then it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself if you are working just a little too hard

  1. Your phone or tablet never leaves your side

It’s true that we live in the age of technology, and many people enjoy taking advantage of having instant information at their fingertips 24/7. But some people suffer from more than just a Candy Crush addiction. When you are regularly interrupting family dinner to take business calls or bringing your phone to the beach with you to ensure that you don’t miss any work emails, technology has become a problem. Being unable to step away from the media stream for short periods of time for fear that your work may suffer is a definite sign that you should reevaluate your work-life balance.

  1. You are stressed out all the time

A classic symptom of overworking, stress can manifest in many different ways. While stress is a normal part of healthy life (in small amounts), you should be concerned if you are displaying signs of severe stress. Left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and depression. There are countless signs of stress, but the most common are gastrointestinal issues, mood swings and irritability, inability to focus, chest pains or rapid heartbeat, aches and pains, frequent illnesses, sleeping problems and unhealthy changes in appetite, and memory problems. Once your dedication to your job has begun to affect your physical and mental health, it is certainly time to reconsider how hard you should be working.


In recent years, Americans have been working harder and more often than they ever have. This has had some extreme effects on individuals and their families; home-life and happiness can suffer when a person is overworked and overstressed. While no one is debating the importance of good work performance, it should not come at a personal cost to employees. Your physical and psychological health are of the utmost importance, and once you have put in your hours of hard work at the office, don’t forget to treat yourself to some well-deserved time off.

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David Ashworth
David Ashworth is a seasoned CEO with over 30 years of heading local, regional and global businesses – from start-ups to $4 billion companies. He has held management positions in organizations in Europe, Asia and the United States.. David holds a BA in business administration from Lady Spencer Churchill College in Oxford, England, and has attended INSEAD Business School and the Stanford Executive Program.