It’s OK, you can admit it to yourself. You work too hard. You’ve always known it, but you just don’t feel like you can confide in anyone. We understand.
You’ve been lead to believe that you should never stop working for fear that you might somehow fall behind. God forbid you come home from work and watch Netflix – don’t you have something more productive to be doing? What about that email you forgot to reply to earlier?
Even when you do kick back and relax, there is that little niggling feeling reminding you of all those loose ends that need tying up. ‘Me time’ has become a precious commodity. It’s as if you can never switch off.
There’s no such thing as job security anymore. Jobs are as disposable as the iPhones they allow us to afford. We’re forced into a constant state of ‘fight or flight’, always feeling like a six month period spent job hunting in our pants at 2am is just around the corner. And this is assuming you’ve managed to find a job in the first place.
It’s getting harder and harder to find a work life balance. We have become a culture that value work over pretty much everything else, or at least we are forced to pretend we have.
Romance, friendships, personal development, hobbies, pleasure, creative pursuits and simply just doing nothing have all been made to seem like menial side projects next to our one true purpose – which is of course to work, buy things and pay tax.
This rings particularly true for young people, contrary to popular belief that they’re a bunch of slackers.
Young people have it hard, man
16-24 year olds are said to be the generation that is “always on.” Work doesn’t stop when they came home thanks to smartphones and 4G internet. They seldom switch off in the era of FOMO.
But that’s a good thing really, because for every graduate job there is now an average of 84 applicants, so their livelihoods depend on staying switched on.
It’s apparently no longer enough to get a 2:1, because with 370,000 people graduating last year alone and nowhere near enough jobs to match, employers are tightening up. Gone are the days when university was a time for turning up at lectures so late that they’re already finished.
This generation are no longer able to indulge in their struggles though, because it might cost them their weekly job seeker’s allowance of £57.25. Particularly now the Tories run things. According to them, this is now a country of “working people.”
There logic goes: If you can’t find a job, stop complaining chump. Sign on at the Job Centre and get a job doing telesales. Never mind your degree in aeronautical engineering – this is the real world.
The world of unpaid internships. The world of minimum wage bar work in order to afford a Pot Noodle whilst you desperately cling on to your dreams as they slowly fade into obscurity. Get on with it.
This is specifically the case in London, the self-appointed centre of the universe. The capital’s population is expected to hit 10 million over the coming years and business is booming.
Even sleep becomes an inconvenience in the face of ‘climbing the ladder.’
Forgetting about sleep
Sleep depravation and working too hard go together like bread and butter. Chances are, if you’re working too hard, you’re not getting enough sleep either. It’s a double edged sword.
According to some, we live in a sleep deprived society. Starting work before 9am has been compared to torture. Studies show that a 10am start and a 4-day work week is far more conducive to a healthy, creative and productive workforce.
Finding a balance
The combination of sleep deprivation, financial pressure and stress wreaks havoc on our physical, mental and spiritual health. What is a good job or a good pay-check without any of these things in tact? Is it not far better if we focus on finding a balance so we can work on all aspects of our life? Fortunately, it is possible to find a balance.
Create a cut off time for electronics in your house. Specifically plan downtime away from your responsibilities. Make evening plans with friends. Start meditating (don’t tell us you don’t have a spare five minutes each day). Read a book. Cook a delicious meal from scratch. Start exercising. (This doesn’t have to be spending an hour at the gym every day – it could just be cycling to work instead of taking the tube, or doing some push ups when you wake up.)
There is a lot of great advice on finding a work life balance beyond what there is time for here, but it’s really worth paying attention.
In a society where we’re forced to prioritise work and money over everything else, it’s easy to neglect our health and our happiness – things that are infinitely more important than any career or the balance of your bank account.
If you don’t believe us, just take a look at our favourite Maggie Thatcher, who spent her whole life boasting about how she ran the country (into chaos) on four hours sleep, only to develop dementia in her final years.
So, stop being so hard on yourself. You’ll miss the beauty of everyday moments if you’re constantly preoccupied with the future. Is that a regret you want to have on your deathbed?