Balancing act: Temporary duties provide good work-life reminder
With all of those extra hours, you'd think our productivity would be skyrocketing, but that's not necessarily the case. The BambooHR graphic cites a study that compared people who worked 55 or more hours a week to people who worked 40 hours a week. It found that those who worked 55 or more hours showed decreased problem-solving skills and worse short-term memory. They also were less creative and productive, and their quality of work suffered.
I hope my creativity and productivity didn't drop too much while I was leading two teams, but I'm sure my divided attention meant there were times I wasn't as efficient or effective as usual.
I also found that it was harder to make time for working out and resting during these last few weeks, and the BambooHR infographic confirms that people who are working all the time get less sleep and exercise than those who have a 40-hour workweek. Those 60-hours-a-week folks also tend to have much higher stress levels than their counterparts in the 40-hour club.
That's certainly held true for me. I still don't get enough sleep, for a variety of non-work reasons, but I do have significantly less stress these days than I did before I changed careers. I've also found the time and energy to make a renewed commitment to my physical health, and as a result, I've dropped more than 20 pounds in the last year and feel better on a daily basis.
The bottom line is that I'm glad I had my temporary dual-manager experience, but I'm ready to get back to my regular gig. And as I enjoy a return to better work-life balance, I'd be interested in your thoughts about this issue.
How many hours do you spend at work or working at home during an average week? Has that increased or decreased in the last five or 10 years? If it has increased, do you think your extra hours on the job have translated into higher productivity? In general, do you think Americans work too many or too few hours each week?
Please send me an email or leave a comment to share your ideas, and I'll use some of your responses in a future column.
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