Americans work a lot.
In fact, 94 percent of working professionals report working more than 50 hours per week, and nearly half claim to work over 65 hours a week. Americans work 137 more hours per week than Japanese workers, 260 more than British workers, and nearly 500 more than French workers.
Overworking not only results in burnout, but it also brings the sort of stress that has long-term health consequences. Working too much—which impairs your sleep cycles—increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Studies have also linked overworking to lower life expectancy.
So how do you achieve better work-life balance?
It’s not easy, but even those who work more than 65 hours a week can find ways to lower their stress levels. Here are just a few:
Let go of perfectionism. Overachievers tend to develop perfectionist tendencies, which leads them to triple-checking their work and obsessing over the most minor details. If perfectionism becomes an unchecked habit, it can be destructive. You can retain your attention to detail, while also learning how to pick your battles at work. Whether it’s a combative co-worker or a last-minute edit, some are just not worth fighting.
Establish boundaries at work. If you’re working long hours, you’re probably in good standing at your place of work. Employers value overachievers, but they also value employees who remain firm about their boundaries. You can sit down with your boss and negotiate a line—how late you’ll work, when you’ll respond to emails, and so forth. It’s not an easy conversation, but your boss will actually gain respect for you if you show you’re not a pushover.
Delegate, delegate, delegate. Trusting others to perform a task can be difficult, but it can also save you a lot of time. If one or two of your coworkers are trustworthy, don’t hesitate to ask for help from time to time. More often than not, they’ll help. Delegation also brings you out of your bubble, improving your networking skills.