Working Yourself To Death

According to the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (as reported by CNN), people who work 10-12 hours per day are 56% more likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack than those who work less than 10 hours. Before you discount the results, realize this: They factored out stress, personality and behaviors such as smoking.

One of the authors of the study speculates that the increase in hours leaves less time to unwind. In Juggling Elephants terms, there is little time for an intermission to relax and recharge.

While this type of study gets our attention, we shouldn't discount the short-term impact of working too many hours. It's true that jobs sometimes require an increase in hours for a short period of time-but too often we let that short period of time become too long. For me, it helps to have some warning signals that tell me I am working too many hours without a break or change in routine. They include:

  • Eating lunch at my desk more than once every two weeks.
  • Skipping my personal time (reading, devotion, etc.) in the morning.
  • Trying to convince myself I don't have time to exercise.
  • Failure to have at least 2-3 good laughs per day-because I am too hyperfocused on work.
  • Just going through the motions at work and not really focusing on how to best accomplish the tasks.
  • When I have no creative energy.
  • Being irritable or on a "short fuse" with family and friends.

You might want to make your own list-before some major health problem FORCES you to change behavior.