Back in college, I found myself in an environment where sleeping less than six hours a day was a source of pride. I thought studying longer meant increasing my chances of success.
I happily paraded my ability to study or write a paper until after midnight because hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Or at least, that’s what I told myself.
The sentiment has not changed now that I’m working. The pressure to log in overtimes during the weekdays or check emails on the weekends is especially intense for younger professionals. We are expected to follow the “blueprint of success” designed by our bosses and mentors. Many of whom, of course, will tell you that we must work long hours. Every single day. For the rest of our lives.
Just because that is how things are done around here doesn’t necessarily mean that you should follow suit.
I’ve learned better than to listen to all the “conventional” career advice thrown at me. Several burnouts and sicknesses early in my work life has taught me that I shouldn’t be working harder. Instead, I should be working smarter. It’s easy to stay in the office until midnight. It’s much more difficult to spread work evenly and cross off your to-do’s before dinner time.
I’ve learned to stop glorifying people who work long hours everyday. I have found that it is much better to emulate the people who get the job done and find time for leisure and rest. If you look closely enough, you will realize that the happiest people are the ones who are able to find the right balance in their lives.
So no, your long hours absolutely do not impress me. Your Instagram stories bragging about working until 2am is not sexy at all. You are not working efficiently if you have to stretch out your day everyday. These instances should be an exception rather than the norm.
I understand that there are certain situations that call for late nights. Personally, I will not hesitate to work until late or get up earlier if necessary. The point however is not to compromise rest. The time you spend away from work is just as important as the time you are at work. A fulfilling career requires both.
If you find yourself unable to get away from working the long, hard hours, it might be best to take a step back an audit where you end up spending or wasting time. Truly successful people know how to delegate tasks, cut out distractions, and accomplish work with minimal effort. You are more in control of the situation than you give yourself credit for.