Yesterday, I was watching a clip of an upcoming web series. One of the characters is a high powered executive who actaully slept at her desk one night to make everyone aware of the long hours she is putting in.
It used to be a status symbol to brag about how much we were working. In First Things First, Stephen Covey, Roger Merrill, and Rebecca Merrill write, "People expect us to be busy, overworked. It's become a status symbol in our society — if we're busy, we're important; if we're not busy, we're almost embarrassed to admit it."
Is that still the case?
Lately, all I hear is groaning about long hours and overwork. But why then, do we feel we need to claim to work more hours than we actually do?
Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think had me totally entertained when she wrote a blog post called “Stop Lying About How Much You Work,” It deals with our tendency to tell tall tales and talk about 80-hour weeks, as if we were actually working 80 hours. As she notes, in the vast majority of cases, we aren’t.
University of Maryland sociologist John Robinson has conducted several studies comparing people’s estimated workweeks to time logs. It turns out that the average person claiming to work 70, 80, or more hours per week is actually working less than 60
So are we overinflating our workweek to brag, or to gripe?
Laura also points out that when people talk about 80-hour weeks, it encourages people to stay late, wandering around, ordering delivery, surfing the web at their desk. Even if all this hanging around only adds up to 60 hours, it’s still inefficient. And more importantly, complaints about 80-hour weeks scare off people who are willing to work hard but not stupidly, she notes.
Dr. Stephanie Smith adds to the conversation on the Your Mind Your Body blog by noting how along with long work hours, stress is the new status symbol. She says many of us have gotten caught up in bragging about the amount of stress we are under as a way to impress people. We count the number of hours we spend in the car, on the laundry, at our kids’ schools, at our desk, and paying our bills.
When was the last time someone you spoke to went through the laundry list of reasons they are stressed out? Five minutes ago?
Dr. Smith provides some great solutions to stopping the cycle and I added some of my own:
organization a less attractive place to work.