9 Little Signs You Might Be Working Too Hard

The saying goes, “work hard, play hard,” but sometimes the tides shift, and suddenly it becomes “work twice as hard, don’t even have the strength to watch an hour of Netflix at night.” If your personal life feels like a very distant memory and you can’t remember the last time you ate a meal NOT in front of your laptop, you could be working a little too hard. Even if you finally landed the entry-level position of your dreams, it’s never worth it to spread yourself so thin in a job that you’re miserable. You’re totally game to work like crazy (especially if you want to advance to that next-level position), but there’s still a line to be drawn. Go ahead, take another coffee break and while you’re doing that, take a good hard look at the signs you’re way too over-worked.

1. You recite future emails aloud in the shower.

The best way to get a jump-start on your day is to draft emails in your head while you shampoo your hair, right? Wrong. There’s no need to write an entire memo to the office in the shower before 8AM. Besides, you’ll probably forget all of the great points you’ve made as soon as you step out of the shower, and trying to recall exactly how each sentence went will drive you insane for the rest of the day. It’s not worth it.

2.  The thought of accidentally spelling a word wrong in an email you sent two days ago keeps you up at night.

Hit SEND. Take a swig of coffee. Suddenly freak out that you accidentally addressed the Ms. as a Mr.; but that email is gone forever. Rest assured that you probably spelled everything right. I mean, what are you going to do now anyway? Proofreading it over after the fact will only cause more aggravation. You know what’s worse than an email with a small mistake? Fifteen thousand of those “recall” emails.

3.  You can never turn your phone off. Never. Not even for a second.

There’s a little voice in the back of your head that reminds you repeatedly that the second you turn off your phone, you’ll get the most important email of your life. The second you go into that two and a half hour long movie, your boss is going to need you to re-send some files. The second you go to bed, something is going to happen halfway around the world that requires your immediate attention. All of these things are highly unlikely to occur at the exact moment you power down, but it’s understandable to assume that they will. Try to convince yourself that the statistics are in your favor. Put that phone down, leave it on your kitchen table for a few hours, and go do something that will relax you. I promise the world won’t end if you don’t respond to that email within five seconds of it hitting your inbox.

4.  You find yourself talking in some strange office language of abbreviations, even when you leave the office.

Sometimes brevity is key, so abbreviations sure do come in handy. But unless all of your friends also work at the same big company, with the same silly acronyms, using them in a text doesn’t really work. Even if you know what each letter’s meaning symbolizes, there’s a high chance no one else does. The easiest way to separate your work life from home life is to try as hard as you can to switch that work part off as soon as you head out the door. Even though it might be easier to ask, “Hey, what’s your 20?”—it’s best to write, “Hey, what’s your location?” instead. Less confusion that way.

5.  Everything in your life has become microwavable.

Lunch is a boxed Lean Cuisine, and dinner is, well, the same kind of boxy food. You should never have to sacrifice good food because work is consuming every single moment of your waking day. There are plenty of meals that you can eat that don’t come wrapped in plastic and taste way better than whatever is in the frozen food aisle. If you’re thinking that you literally only have a minute to heat your meal, and two minutes to eat it, you are most certainly working too hard. At least take a solid fifteen minutes to let your meal properly cool before you start shoving it in your mouth.

6.  The Starbucks barista doesn’t hold back when he says, “You look tired.”

It’s widely understood that when someone says, “you look tired,” they are trying to tell you, as politely as possible, that you look like a mess, and not like a good hot mess. If the guy making your PSL—who sees hundreds of tired, coffee-zombies a day—feels the need to point out to you that maybe you don’t look your fully awake, that’s probably a cause for concern. Did you sleep enough last night, or were you up late responding to work emails that could have waited until the morning? Copious cups of coffee will only get you so far. Listen to your barista if he tells you something is up.

7.  You freak out over the the littlest things.

No, that spaghetti sauce jar is not out to get you. Do not blame the jar for all the misery in your life right now. Remember: it is an inanimate object that does not respond to emotional outbursts over the fact that it just won’t open. Take a deep breath, go grab one of those rubber jar openers and try twisting the lid again. If little things like this make you aggravated beyond belief, it might be a sign that your mounting anxiety and frustration over work is getting out of hand. While rushing to stay on top of an unreasonable to-do list, you’ve lost perspective of what’s really the problem. It’s not the tightly-sealed jar that sucks. It’s your workload. You’ve got too much to do, and everything that stands in your way wears on your already frayed nerves.

8. Your idea of socializing is “liking” something on Facebook

Forget seeing your friends in person, or even sending personal emails—who has time for that? Now, the only reason your besties know you’re still alive is because you’ve gone on a “like” binge on Facebook. Of course, you didn’t have enough free time to leave actual comments. That would take too long and you’ve got to get back to work. Sigh.

9.  You feel guilty for reading this entire post because you should have been doing work.

Hey, you’re only human. You’re not a work machine. You are allowed to take a break sometimes. And really, if you related to everything on this list, you actually NEED a break, big-time.

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