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Joe Szynkowski: How are you dealing with longer workdays?

From the WorkHappy Wrap-up: Aprils best business advice from Joe Szynkowski series
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The average workday is up by 13% since March 2020, according to research by the Human Understanding and Empathy Group at Microsoft.

Its research also found that people have 250% more meetings every day than they did before the pandemic.

Thank goodness for more daylight hours in the afternoon. Now we can fill it with more work!

As we enter year three of the global COVID-19 pandemic, our workdays have melded into family time with more professionals taking weekend calls or answering late night emails so they aren’t completely behind heading into their next day of work.

This grind-around-the-clock mindset is quickly turning into burnout.

According to the World Health Organization, burnout is a syndrome resulting from workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. WHO characterizes burnout with three dimensions:

• Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion

• Increased mental distance and cynicism toward your job

• Reduced professional efficacy

According to the American Psychological Association’s 2021 Work and Well-being Survey of 1,501 U.S. adult workers, 79% of employees had experienced work-related stress in the month before the survey.

Additionally, nearly three in five employees reported negative impacts of work-related stress, including lack of interest, motivation, or energy (26%) and lack of effort at work (19%).

A mountain of meetings and uncertainty around quitting time means tasks are being completed among our non-work obligations. I don’t think this is a new development for business owners and entrepreneurs. We want our clients to be happy because they ultimately lead to more work, stability, and success.

I’m guilty of reading and responded to emails as soon as I wake up – after I play Wordle, of course. I’ve taken phone calls after-hours from clients who “just need to ask a quick question.”

Ideas to Reduce Overwork & Burnout

So how are you dealing with these longer workdays? Do you find yourself pumping out emails at 9 p.m. or waking up at 5 a.m. to plan out your day?

One way to give yourself back some time is to block your calendar. Earlier this month, I started adding ‘writer’s block’ chunks to my online calendars on Wednesdays and Fridays. Full days without meetings where clients literally cannot book time for meetings.

When I have a full day of client chats, it’s hard to squeeze in the creative work required to get projects off my desk. These writer’s blocks have made a huge difference already.

Another idea: Ask for help.

As your organization (hopefully) trends toward a more empathetic, people-focused culture to retain employees in the face of the Great Resignation, requesting assistance should be encouraged.

Many managers prefer employees to speak up instead of delivering a project late or burning out and looking for another job. Additionally, asking for help may let your manager know that you have too much on your plate and you’re unable to be efficient with your time.

Schedule a meeting with your supervisor and share your concerns. Use real-life examples of the distractions getting in your way.

Be honest about the things causing you to burn out or underperform, and come away from the meeting with solid expectations of how things will change moving forward.

Joe Szynkowski is the happy founder and owner of The UpWrite Group, a small local firm that has offered corporate communications, personal branding, public relations, and ghostwriting services since 2008. Email for more information.


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