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Feeling Overworked

Part 2: Causes and Solutions

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The Families and Work Institute, in their study, Feeling Overworked: When Work Becomes Too Much, identified the aspects of their jobs that cause people to feel overworked or overwhelmed. They are:1
  • working more paid and unpaid hours per week at their main or only jobs
  • working more hours than they would prefer, however many hours they actually work
  • working more days per week at their main/only jobs
  • working more days than they would prefer, however many days they actually work
  • working longer hours or more days than they prefer for external reasons (Reasons other than financial or personal)
  • believing they cannot change their work schedule so that they can work the hours or days they prefer

There are solutions that may help resolve those issues. Of course an obvious solution would be to reduce the number of hours at work. Even if you think it isn't possible, you may want to give it a try. There are alternate work options that are more flexible than typical forty hours per week schedules.

I'm sure many of you are working more than forty hours per week. Recent layoffs have thrust huge amounts of work on employees who got to keep their jobs. In addition, survivers of layoffs are "afraid of losing their jobs and are therefore working harder and longer hours to prove their worth" ( Job Burnout). If this is the case, it's unlikely you'll be able to, or want to, talk to your boss about a reduction in hours. Rather than changing your work situation, you need to change the way you react to it. You should look into using relaxation techniques to lessen the stress caused by feeling overworked. Relaxation techniques may also help with another thing that contributes to employees feeling overworked or overwhelmed. Those who experience greater pressure on the job feel more overworked.

Those who use technology, for example cell phones, beepers, pagers, computers, email, and fax, more frequently feel overworked. So do those who are more accessible to their employers during non-working hours and days. If possible, try to set aside a day, or several hours of each day, when you are off limits. Turn off your beeper and your cell phone, and don't check your email during that time. If your boss is willing to work with you on this, you can set aside times when you are always available, and other times when you are never available. Make yourself available when your boss needs you most and hopefully he or she will reciprocate by allowing you to have some time to yourself.

1. Galinsky, E., Kim, S., and Bond, J. Feeling Overworked: When Work Becomes Too Much. Families and Work Institute, 2001.

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