Thinking that keeps you in work-mode

Have you ever found yourself spending so much time at work that your children start to forget your name? OK, it probably hasn't got to that point. But most of us have had times where we have given so much time or energy to our work that we start to get resentful of what it is costing us and our family.

Some of us are unfortunate enough to have found ourselves with a boss who has totally unreasonable expectations. They give us an extraordinarily high workload, with minimal support, and expect us to be available seven days a week.

Some of these managers will be more reasonable if you give them a powerful enough rationale for easing back - your partner threatening separation, you are close to having a nervous breakdown, or are thinking about leaving the workplace. Otherwise, you are left with either becoming increasingly miserable or finding yourself a better workplace.

More often than not, we also have unreasonable expectations of ourselves. We think ‘Once I get this work done, then I will take it easy'. Although this sounds rational, the trouble is that the job takes much longer than we thought and there is always something else to do. Or we aim for perfection rather than simply a good enough standard.

As is so often the case with problem behaviour, it is the problem thinking that we need to change first.

People also work long and hard due to the benefits of doing so. Here I am not talking about their pay, but more getting caught up in the challenge of the work they are doing.

There might also be benefits for some that come from avoiding an unsatisfying personal life. If this is you, you need to also start appreciating the costs to you and your family from your current commitment to work or start to make your personal life more enjoyable.

Obsessive behaviour is another reason people work far too hard. If ever you have found yourself compulsively checking on your emails 50 times a day, you will know what I mean. Here you need to channel this ability by giving yourself something else to focus on - a healthy obsession - perhaps an interest you are passionate about.

It is not so much saying ‘No' to work, but more saying ‘Yes' to your personal life. When you have said ‘Yes' to attending your child's school play or have made a commitment to go cycling with your mates, it makes it so much easier to set limits with your work.

Where possible, you need to structure your work around your personal life. You will feel happier as a result.

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