Why I’m Not Giving In To Our Generation’s Newest Obsession

 

As an intern at the very start of my career, employers assumed I would say yes to any overtime thrown my way and that I would always count myself in for extra work. Living and working in the city, it’s easy to get caught up in the overworking lifestyle. Staying late is the complete norm. Dinner plans are always delayed to accommodate my friends busy working schedules and even then everyone still turns up late.

Research from Beauty Company Blow LTD has even revealed that women between the ages of 22 – 29 (the ‘millennial’ generation) clocked up an extra 18 typical working days more than the rest of the UK’s female workforce. It’s no wonder I’ve found myself reluctant to comply with the expectations.

The city is full of competition; everyone wants to be the best. We are desperate to impress, but at what cost?

The number of women experiencing the strain of balancing a career and a family is 50% higher than the number of men. Essentially as women are keen to dominate in every aspect of our lives, we are damaging our wellbeing by doing so. Surrounded by people staying late, taking their laptops home to continue their work and being glued to their emails, it’s a struggle not to give into the demands.

On the one hand, I am desperate to prove myself and work as many hours as the others around me. On the other, I don’t want to fall out of love with work before I’ve even properly started; there’s no denying it’s hard to find a balance between the two. Often I find myself indulged in a piece of work, unable to resist staying late to finish it. But I have quickly learned that once you start, it becomes an expectation for you to carry on.

I’ve realized it’s best to set boundaries. There’s no way to avoid having to work a little extra now and then, but finding a balance between your job and the rest of your life will make your work far better in the long run.

It’s certainly not easy, but maybe one day if we are lucky we will have Denmark’s ideal work-life balance, where staying late is a sign of being unorganized, not something that’s impressive.

 

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13 Comments
  1. I can’t agree more with this. Why is there so much desire to be seen as overworking yourself? I worked for a year out of university in an agency job that saw people giving serious side eye to anyone who left the office on time, even if it was the only time that week! People would actually ask where you thought you were going… I was stressed, going home in tears at times, and it just wasn’t good for any of us. Now I’m in a job where the whole company had a healthy work ethic – people work very hard but almost always leave on time, yet when overtime is required to get things done it means nobody grumbles about it and we’re happy to give our time!

  2. Been there, done that…. and it is something I will not do again. When I was in my twenties I used to work long hours as a matter of course, and it all got even worse when my boyfriend and I broke up in my late twenties. Suddenly I didn’t have someone waiting for me at home and I worked in a very sociable office, so we all worked late. And in the end, as you say, it becomes expected. So at some point I had to set the boundaries and learnt to say no. It helps when you explain. I would say to my boss that in order to do X I would need to stay really late, and she clearly didn’t want me to have to, so it took a while but the more you do it the more comfortable you become. Now in my mid thirties I do have to work late sometimes, but it is the exception and not the rule, and I am ok with that.

    Inma x
    sunshineandglow.blogspot.com

  3. In the United States it’s not a a generational thing or a female thing, it’s a work force thing period. It has been this way for maybe 3 decades now. We often glance across the pond and dream of the balance you feel is off kilter. Stand your ground!

  4. Since work ethic requires me to work hard and smart I’ll do it until my body tells me to slow down and I’d listen, other than that I wouldn’t compare myself to Denmark :)
    xx Alexis
    YouTube “Travel with Alexis”

  5. I agree completely! I hate the workaholic culture in the US, we aren’t on this planet to spend our lives making money for other people but that’s precisely what’s expected. I’m glad I work somewhere where most everyone leaves on time, but even if I didn’t, time management means I should be able to get all my work done in a 9 hour day. I feel like staying late is a sign you’re not working hard enough actually, 9 hours is a long time!

  6. I can relate to this so much. You want to show your boss and colleagues your flexibility and adaptability at work and schedule. The result most of the time is losing work-life balance and even burn out. Then I realized that I should learn the word NO. (still working on it though). Great post! xx

    http://www.prettyweirdbombshell.com

  7. I used to work in financial services and there was an expectation to stay later to finish a job even if that meant not getting paid for it, so I left and got a job with fantastic flexi, great holiday entitlement and loads of autonomy. Ok, these opportunities don’t come up all the time but screw continuously working ridiculous hours, I know in some industries it’s the norm to meet deadlines and I wouldn’t mind having to do it sometimes if a job needed doing but I’d rather have an enjoyable life than work non stop to reach the top of a career ladder, too many people are defined by their career alone. Also in some work places(in certain Government institutions) it looks bad to stay late as it looks like you can’t manage your workload, 7-9 hours is plenty of time to get it done.

  8. We were all in our 20ies when we first got our first job & trying to figure out what is the right balance in the workplace. What keeps your boss happy in order to keep your job and on the other hand what is the best for you… What keeps you happy & productive . I must admit as a Gen x now , I personally got it all wrong when I was 20 years old. I worked too hard for too little money in order to keep my job…(at that time , noone gave you a job if you didn’t have experience in the field, so getting the job was difficult & keeping it was even more so ). That only keeps your boss happy & you , feeling like a zombi . So I do agree with the article very much. It is imperative to find a good work – life balance as soon as possible , primarily for your well- being. Besides , after working for 20 years in the same field , believe me when I say that it is very rare to get extra credit or appreciation from your employers for the extra work you do , except if you are lucky to work for a good employer …& there are not many out there.

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