“Work-life balance isn’t really America’s strong suit. We spend more hours on the job than most other developed countries. We don’t [take much] vacation time, … [and] we’re unusually prone to working nights and weekends.”
Don’t get me wrong. A strong work ethic is a good thing. Hard work often reaps an incredible reward, moves a company forward, and fosters a sense of feel-good pride.
However, hard work can also be addictive. After a while, if left unchecked, long hours can make the days seemingly blur together and extend into the weekend — a time that should be reserved for rejuvenation and balance.
Entrepreneurs, especially in the early-stages of their business, are known for working around the clock. One study shows that 97 percent of business owners work on the weekends, and another revealed that 81 percent of employees check their work email after hours.
As a business owner, I’ve experienced the workaholic lifestyle first-hand. I used to wear it as a badge of honor and think that taking a break meant I wasn’t being productive. Startup culture often celebrates it. To some, this notion is unthinkable, but I quickly realized that it was not a sustainable—or healthy—way to live.
It’s best to rest
Just as the human body needs food and water, your professional life needs sustenance. I learned this lesson the hard way when I first began my journey of entrepreneurship.
The pressure I put on myself to work hard and perform resulted in long hours at the office, both during the week and over the weekend. Before I knew it, I had become a workaholic and it took a toll. My physical health and personal relationships suffered at the expense of my time sheet, and it wasn’t until I collapsed from exhaustion that I knew I had to take control of my days.
To achieve ultimate productivity, I set new goals for both myself and my team. Now, we end each workday at 4 p.m., and we absolutely refuse to work on the weekends. This balance allows us to rest, rejuvenate, and reconnect with our families and loved ones.
Regain control of your day
It’s essentially impossible to be a healthy, high-performing workaholic. According to research conducted by The Lancet, people who work more than 55 hours a week are 33 percent more susceptible to having a stroke than those who work a standard 40-hour week. Furthermore, a different study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that workaholics tend to have lower scores on vocabulary and reasoning tests.
Not to mention that research has found “that after 49 hours of work in a week, productivity begins a sharp decline.”
If that’s not enough to convince you to restructure your work week and work more sustainable hours, here are two more reasons you should axe weekend work:
1. Less is more.
According to Pareto’s Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule), 20 percent of what you do each day produces 80 percent of the results you see. In that vein, trimming your hours and cutting back on weekend work will actually increase your rate of productivity. Then, you can donate your newfound time to the things that workaholics often take for granted or forget about: friends, family, and hobbies.
Taking control of your work schedule will not only motivate you to maximize every second you spend at the office, but it will also help you appreciate other areas of your life.
2. Beware the stress effect.
Think of rest as fuel for the mind. Without it, stress and exhaustion will set in and hinder your work performance and overall health. The American Psychology Association cites money and work as the two biggest sources of stress in our lives; workplace stress is known to increase our risk of heart attacks, hypertension, and other health issues.
It’s definitely in your best interest to give your brain a break on the weekends. It will benefit your workflow, personal life, and longevity.
Leave everything behind
When I leave the office, I don’t just physically depart from it; I leave everything behind. The working world may never sleep, but I certainly need to.
It is our responsibility to set boundaries and ensure we are living our lives to the fullest. So take time to disconnect from work, reconnect with your personal passions, and recharge for the week that lies ahead. Your body, mind, family, and friends will all thank you for it.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Originally from Turkey, Zeynep Ilgaz and her husband immigrated to the United States with two suitcases, their love for each other and a desire for entrepreneurship. They co-founded Confirm BioSciences and TestCountry in San Diego, and Ilgaz serves as president of both. Confirm BioSciences offers service-oriented testing technologies for drugs of abuse and health. Connect with @ConfirmBio on Twitter.