“Why Do We Work Too Much?”

Originally posted in our October 2021 Top of Mind Newsletter.

As the ambiguity of COVID-19 continues to impact our health and our work, it is fitting to reflect on how and why we work the way we do. In this recent New Yorker piece, the author presents us with an interesting trend in the post-industrial economy much of the Western world finds itself in. That is a seemingly infinite amount of opportunity and the cultural shift towards larger and larger ambitions. If we take these two things in moderation, we can see a very optimistic outlook on the future of work. But, unfortunately, moderation isn’t the case for most of us in the workforce.

As the piece points out, chronic busyness is an issue across the economic board. It is easy for those working in larger organizations to point towards managers and excessive growth goals that hold our feet to the fire. When we look at the world in this way, it is easy to see the drive to over-work ourselves as one created by our boss, the owner, or other influential individuals.

But what about those of us in a more autonomous work setting? COVID-19 has led more and more people to start their own businesses, and these individuals “exist in a liminal zone: a place where they toil…twenty percent more than they really have time for,” and the piece suggests. So, what’s the deal? When you don’t have a boss to blame, what can we do to limit that extra 20 percent in our lives?

The answer, it seems, lies in how we organize our tasks and overall workload and how we prioritize them. Read more in this thought-provoking piece.

What do you think?