How do you know when it’s time to examine how your job fits into your life?
- You’re staying up too late or having trouble staying asleep. You’re sitting all day and not exercising. You’re getting most of your food from a vending machine or drive-thru window or not eating at all. You have a nagging pain or health concern but don’t feel like you have time to go to the doctor.
- You’ve started noticing signs of anxiety or depression. You are feeling angry or irritable. You may experience dread, restlessness, hopelessness, panic attacks, mood swings, and maybe even thoughts of suicide.
- Your work no longer feels meaningful. You don’t feel connected to your colleagues or clients. You’re just going through the motions. You just don't care anymore.
- You feel incompetent. No matter what you do, it feels like it’s never enough. You’re always behind and the quality of your work may suffer. You worry constantly about your job performance. You fear (but maybe also secretly fantasize about) being fired.
- There are no clear boundaries between work and home. You’re working longer and longer hours. You can’t take time off without getting calls, texts and emails from work. You feel like you have to be available around the clock.
- You’re lonely. Although you may have people around all the time and you’re constantly connected electronically, you no longer have the time or energy for meaningful interactions with family or friends. Your relationships begin to suffer.
- Disconnect when you’re at home. “Put down the phone,” Dr. Sullivan says. “We don’t need to be available 24/7.” Constantly checking and responding to texts and emails raises stress levels, makes it difficult to connect with family members and negatively affects your sleep.
- Be more efficient at work. Focus on one task at a time and keep working on it until it’s complete. Don’t try to multitask. Close your email and turn off your phone when possible to minimize distractions. “If we’re efficient we finish our work, and then we’re able to go home and spend time with our family,” Dr. Sullivan says.
- Prioritize self-care. Make a decision to set aside time for exercise. Choose and plan for nutritious meals and quality time with friends and family. Make those things non-negotiable in your schedule.
- Get professional help. If the stress is really getting to you and impacting your mental health, don’t hesitate to talk to a therapist. Many employers offer employee assistance programs that can connect you with a mental health professional who has experience helping people manage their stress.
Here's some information from the Cleveland Clinic about the illusion of multitasking.