Overworking: how to stop being married to your job

Written by Neil Dutta Tuesday 13 July 2021
Are you married to your work? Struggling to meet new people? You’re not alone. But this young business owner has some advice
Person working at night looking stressed with their head in their hands

There are many forms of love that we can embrace: love for your partner, love for your family, love for your friends, and even love for your job.

But since the beginning of the 1990s, the weekly hours spent at work by people in the UK have shot up. For many, a job isn’t just a means of making money, but a key part of their lifestyle.

Do you feel married to your job?

Job fulfilment is important, of course. However, when your work/life balance starts to lean more towards work and your job starts negatively impacting your relationships, it’s time to question things. One survey by Job Exodus revealed that in 2020, two in three employees were looking for a better work-life balance in new roles. Even those people who love their jobs and feel happy working long hours to get results could underestimate the impact being married to their job might have on the rest of their lives.

Overworking is something that’s keeping many people single and resulting in loneliness; by spending the majority of our waking hours at work, there’s no time left to build meaningful connections, and dating falls to the wayside. Talking to the Guardian, one overworked teacher said that dating apps began to feel like yet another job or a task to tick off, taking the joy out of dating.

With 2.4 million adults in Britain reportedly suffering from ‘chronic loneliness’ (in 2018) and projections stating that one in seven people in the UK could be living alone by 2039, it could be time to take a step back from your entanglement with work and invest more time into your personal life and happiness.

How has the pandemic impacted work/life balance?

The pandemic has made us all rethink a lot of things – including our attitudes towards our work/life balance. While some people found working from home difficult to navigate the balance, others thrived. The lockdowns have offered a rare opportunity for people to spend quality time with their loved ones, and for many, the idea of going back to spending late nights at the office has lost its appeal.

According to the BBC, nine in ten workers say they would prefer to continue working from home even after all restrictions have been lifted. Clearly, this flexible style of working has been embraced, and being able to be flexible with your work is key to developing healthy relationships outside of it.

Living in lockdown helped couples everywhere to appreciate each other and realise that they have something truly special. With the pressure of going into the office removed, there has been more time to focus on relationships. This could be one of the reasons we saw a surge of lockdown engagements.

New ways of working

As well as working from home and embracing flexible hours, there are other ways of working that could ensure that employees get more time with their loved ones or to develop new relationships.

Take the four-day working week. One in four Brits would reportedly take a pay cut for a shorter working week, and a long weekend would allow people to achieve a healthier work/life balance. One company, Stopaids, trialled a four-day working week and found that their staff reported lower levels of stress and felt less pressured by work and life demands.

Not only would a four-day working week allow employees to spend more time with their friends and family, but it would offer single people more opportunities to get back into dating in a way that’s fun and not draining. When work takes over your life, using your scarce free hours to date can be draining and unappealing when you need some downtime. However, with flexible hours and a shorter working week, people have more time to relax, recharge, and make connections.

If you are someone who loves your job, there’s no reason why you should completely give up on it in favour of relationships – it’s all about finding that perfect balance. You can achieve a healthy work/life balance as long as you leave yourself open to make new bonds and don’t neglect the important connections in your life. Be strict with yourself – if you say you’re going to work until 5pm on a certain day, stick to that rule. Try not to cancel social events or dates in favour of work, and remember, the moments you look back on and cherish won’t be the long hours in the office, but the time you spent with your loved ones.

We explored the potential problems of inter-office relationships in a previous edition of our magazine – CMI members can access this article on ManagementDirect.

Neil Dutta is the owner of Angelic Diamonds

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