Does Working Late Do More Harm Than Good?
Working late now and then can increase your productivity and is unlikely to cause lasting adverse effects on your body. But routinely spending too much time working can affect your health, increase your stress levels and decrease the level of satisfaction you feel with your job and life in general.
Think you might be spending a bit too much time working outside office hours? Here are a few ways working late may be wreaking havoc and how to course-correct.
Lack of movement
Sitting in your chair staring at your computer for eight hours a day is bad enough. Increase that time by working late, and your risk of health problems like obesity, heart disease and varicose veins rises significantly. According to Dr James A. Levine, ‘sitting is the new smoking’ because it can cause health consequences that are just as serious.
The good news is that you can quickly beat this habit. Ask your boss for an adjustable desk so that you can stand and stretch a few times each hour. Go for a walk outside during breaks and lunches. When you’re walking about the building, skip the lift and climb the stairs for meetings or other tasks you need to complete on different floors. You should also strive to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day to maintain your mental and physical health.
Lack of sleep
On average, you need about eight hours of quality sleep each night. If you’re not getting anything close to that, you’re not alone. In fact, one in every three people in the UK suffers from poor sleep. Working late means you have little time to get adequate rest, leaving you stressed and anxious. Consistently missing precious hours of sleep makes you more likely to feel groggy, short-tempered and lack the focus you need to complete projects.
If you’re not getting enough sleep each night, it’s probably time to have a chat with your boss. They’ll be able to help you prioritise tasks and might be able to help you reduce your workload. You can also explore the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ tips to get a good night’s rest. Also, if you can, consider not having work apps on your personal phone, so that you’re not seeing messages come through out of hours.
Create a bedtime routine and stick with it. Go to bed at the same time every night and keep your room cool. Turn off all lights, including any blue lights from your mobile or computer. Light from these devices can stimulate your brain and make it difficult to fall asleep.
If your mind is racing, consider practising meditation to ease the flow of thoughts. Or look for one of the best mindfulness apps to help you relax and settle down at the end of a stressful charity workday.
Lack of work-life balance
It’s critical to keep your work and home life separate. Too much work and not enough play can leave you tense and unfulfilled. You may start noticing the symptoms of burnout such as feeling physically and emotionally exhausted, detached from others around you, and feeling ineffective in both your professional and personal life. Other signs of poor balance include falling behind on your work, forgetting to eat well and feeling anxious or depressed.
There are a few ways to find a better work-life balance no matter your industry. First, acknowledge when you’re feeling off-balance. Tell your boss or co-workers how you’re feeling so that they can help you stay accountable for finding a better schedule and not working late. Take your scheduled breaks and lunch during the workday. Take time to walk away from your desk and sit outside in the sunshine if possible.
Many people lose holiday pay each year because they’re too afraid to leave work to someone else. Don’t make this mistake. If you haven’t taken a holiday yet this year, speak to your boss and get one in the calendar straight away.
Sticking to your schedule
Stress in the charity sector is challenging. Your passion for helping others is an excellent characteristic to have, but it can also leave you feeling a strong sense of dedication that sometimes backfires and causes you to work too much. If your work is harming you in any of these ways, it might be time to take a break and regroup.
If you work at a charity where the flow of work means you’re consistently working late―and management haven’t been able to do anything to help you―it might be time to find a new role. Particularly if working late is starting to have an impact on your mental health.
Take a look at the roles currently on CharityJob. Maybe one of them could be your next move.
This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current jobseeker experience.