10 Signs You Are Working Too Much


Too much coffee

At the moment everyone in the Australian web industry is saying the same thing. They are more than busy, they are completely flatout. Often over worked and trying their best to maintain their usual quality of work with the limited resources that are available. In a way being overworked is like being under extreme stress. But as humans we are very easy to adapt to changes in environmental conditions so you may not be even aware you are overworked, so here is a checklist:

  1. Your family and friends have got so used to not having you around, you feel like a stranger when you are around them.
  2. Closing yourself off from your friends and associates, stopping all contact, ignoring emails, phone calls from them etc.
  3. You have a spiralling compulsion to work longer and longer hours, trying to squeeze the last few minutes from the day.
  4. Your level of caffeine and stimulates has increased to the point that it disrupts your sleep, what little that you are getting.
  5. You are putting aside relaxation or regular exercise in favour of getting the job done, you feel compelled to finish the tasks at hand.
  6. You are finding that you are getting really irate at mundane things. Like when you have to wait for anything, queuing at the checkout, in traffic or waiting for a late scheduled meeting.
  7. General forgetfulness of anything that is not work related.
  8. Missing family special events, such as partner’s work events, or children’s school or major sporting events in favour of work.
  9. Long term sickness, like a cold or flu you just can’t shake.
  10. You get to the point that you can’t tell what day it is. You avoid drawing the blinds as you don’t want to look at the beautiful day outside as it’s going to distract you.

Well if some of these sound familiar maybe it’s time to look at what and why you doing it all, lets stop the burnout. Remember life it just too short to waste it on endless work. enjoy it. It will be over before you know it.

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  1. Oh geez, I recognise all those signs! It’s all behind me now – even though it cost me my dreams of owning my own business and retiring at 30.

  2. I’m totally with you. It’s a rare night I don’t work again for a few hours after my daughter has gone to bed. I think I remember Josh Porter Twittering earlier this year words to the effect that “… as a small business owner I can work any hours I like. Any 80 hours a week that I like…”

    It’s not quite that bad, but it is heavy going at times. My wish for 2008 is to be able to stop relying on a single big client for all my income – a contracted body model – and shift to many clients with whom I have retainers or ongoing work. If I can’t achieve this, I’ll be looking for advice on what I’m doing wrong and how to fix it. Long, ongoing 9-5 contracts aren’t my thing.

  3. […] would be good if there was some warning signs prior to the actual demise. Gary Barber has compiled a list of signs you’re working too much that includes the […]

  4. Good post Gary.

    I’m still suffering from #9 – can’t seem to shake it!

  5. I’ve been there too. I’m not there right now, but as a result worrying about where money is coming from 😉

    @stephen it does not get better when you have many clients. It is *much* worse and much harder to juggle.

  6. What are the solutions for this problem?

  7. @Mahshid:

    1. Don’t do your own book-keeping
    2. Don’t do your own tax returns
    3. Know why you’re doing it
    4. Be convinced it’s absolutely what you want to do
    5. Have your network of colleagues close by (ie Twitter) to help you out


  8. […] I wrote an article a short time ago on Work/Blog/Life about signs that you’re working too hard (and thanks to Gary Barber for compiling the list). […]

  9. 1) Learn to delegate tasks out to other people and prioritize the tasks at hand. The best managers are the ones that don’t do anything and have others do everything.

    2) Don’t reinvent the wheel. For example, from a programming perspective: why create your own solution when you can use a class file or a plugin. Too often people try to get “creative” with the task at hand and far too often it comes back to biting them in the ass later. Stick to what is proven to work.

    3) Ask for help when needed. Why spend 6 hours trying to figure something out on your own, when you could IM someone, post a message to usenet, ask a question in an IRC channel or spend the money and call or hire an expert.

    4) Learn to say NO! Just because someone asks you to do something, doesn’t mean you have to do it. Far too often people become overworked because they’re helping friends to finish their projects while falling behind on their own. Help yourself first, you’re no good to anyone when can’t even think.

  10. […] Gary’s latest blog post is anything to go by (and I’m living it, so I know he is right), we are all still cranking […]

  11. Well we have all been there, haven’t we. Considering doing a solutions post, but from a Freelancers view point.

  12. I’m involved in at least 3 of the 10 on the checklist and it worries me. Thanks for the read!

  13. […] Barber’s article 10 Signs You Are Working Too Much reminds me of some of my past […]

  14. Hmmm… scoring 6 out of 10. Fortunately I don’t recognize the first 3, but thanks for the eye opener on the others Gary!

    For example… it’s one week ’till Christmas. Normally I’d like to round up some work, maybe read up on stuff and clean out my cupboard. Reminisce on this year, prepare for the next… but it’s been total chaos so far…

    I’m backup for my colleague. All his applications are running smoothly, but everytime he goes on vacation something always goes terribly wrong the first day he’s gone. aaaaaargh… It’s now reached a point where it’s becoming silly (maybe that’s the 11th sign, hahaha)

    Only two days to go and then vacation for me as well… Then others can play backup for me (nice)

    Greetings from the Netherlands (yes, people are overworked there too… apparently)


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