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Editor at Large

Overworking is overvalued – and here’s why

Overworking is overrated, the news release said.

No kidding.

Hell, work itself is overrated, no matter how you describe it: Overworking. Underworking. Medium working. Waking up for work. Driving to work. Working hard. Hardly working. Dirty work. Grunt work. Light work. Pretending to work.

They’re all overrated.

Anyhow, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 85 percent of men and 67 percent of women work more than 40 hours a week. The International Labour Organization reports that Americans work longer hours than people in most of the world’s developed nations, said the news release from News & Experts, a public relations firm in Florida.

But an emerging school of thought holds that going the extra mile for work isn’t worth it because of higher health costs and other harmful effects, the news release said.

“Overworking is overrated,” says Jeremy Greenberg, founder of Avenue Group, a New York firm that advises executives of Fortune 500 corporations, private equity firms and mid-market companies. “We are told to work longer hours, sleep less and grind. But it’s a big misconception to think that this kind of sacrifice leads to success, more money, faster advancement and happiness.”

Chronic overwork, Greenberg continues in the news release, can have very negative effects on our overall quality of life.

“And when we consider what we must give up when we work so hard – too hard – we need to re-evaluate on a lot of levels,” he says.

Greenberg gives four reasons why overworking is overrated (quoting from the news release):

-- It can’t compensate for business flaws. Putting in another two or three hours a day, while continuing to use the same ineffective ways of doing things, won’t solve fundamental issues related to the company’s success, Greenberg says.

-- It distracts from the big picture. Having too much to do often promotes tedium, taking away from valuable time that might otherwise be spent on thinking, creating, planning or maybe just taking a breath.

-- It leads to health problems. Numerous studies show that overwork and stress can result in all kinds of health issues.

-- It lowers performance levels. Sarah Green Carmichael of Harvard Business Review says overwork results in diminishing returns – a general drop-off in quality and an uptick in avoidable mistakes.

“The irony about overworking,” Greenberg says, “is you really get less done, accomplish fewer significant goals, and moreover rob yourself of the quality of life that you’re presumably trying to attain by working harder and longer.”

Works for me.

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