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When Hard Work Doesn't Pay

When Hard Work Doesn't Pay

Yes, you’re an excellent worker. You help everyone out on your team, you never take a sick day and how could you possibly afford to take vacation time when you have so much to do?

If this sounds like you, you might want to brace yourself for some bad news: You’re not an excellent worker because you’re not respecting yourself. By constantly working overtime, you're neglecting essential “you” time—not to mention family and friends time. Neglect those things too long and you're more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

According to European researchers, men and women (particularly those in lower-income jobs) who work way past the typical 40-hour workweek tended to have higher scores for depression and anxiety. This adds to previous research that working overtime can lead to stress and fatigue, which in turn can cause illness and injuries.

By working regular hours, you're giving yourself important time away from your job so that when you come back in the morning, you'll feel refreshed and recharged. Plus, by leaving work when you’re supposed to, it gives you time to fit in healthy habits such as exercise and a full night’s sleep. All of these factors will help you be more productive and efficient during your workday, so you don’t have to feel guilty about leaving when your eight hours are up.

In Europe, employees are entitled to refuse to work more than 48 hours in a week. Of course, everyone jokes that nothing gets done in Europe, but maybe that's because they're so busy actually enjoying their lives. Do you think a proposal like that could work in the U.S.? How does working overtime affect your mood? [Bloomberg]

Posted: 6/18/08