Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
Did the end of the day roll around, and once again, you’re not even close to being able to clock out?
You’d love to enjoy your personal life, but your to-do list always seems to be a mile long. Sure, you could blow it off, but you have your eye on a promotion at the end of the year.
No question — working hard is vital if you want to be successful in your career. But there’s also such a thing as working too hard.
If you’re finding that you’re constantly working long hours and never really getting ahead, it might be time to reassess your habits.
Adjustments to Make at Work
Admittedly, getting a promotion requires more than simply showing up to work and doing the bare minimum.
However, that doesn’t mean you to sacrifice everything else in your life. Consider the following tips to find a balance and achieve forward career progression.
1. Get Organized
Trying to do too many things at once is a recipe for feeling overwhelmed. If you’re constantly struggling to keep up with your workload, it’s time to sit down and take a hard look at your priorities and work style.
Do you have a list that helps you stay on top of the most critical tasks?
Is your workspace cluttered and harming your productivity? If so, take some time to establish better work routines and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
2. Consistently Deliver
Most professionals who have achieved career progression live by this simple mantra: under-promise and over-deliver. Employers love it when projects get completed early or turn out even better than expected.
On the flip side, they really hate missed deadlines and subpar work.
Giving yourself some wiggle room will keep stress levels down and ensure you can live up to your word.
In return, you’ll gain the reputation for reliability and quality performance needed to put you front and center for promotions and great new assignments.
3. Set Boundaries
Having said that you need to over-deliver, recognize that this means putting your full focus into a project and doing your best work — not taking on more projects than you can reasonably handle.
One of the reasons why people end up working too much is because they don’t know how to say “no.”
If you’re constantly taking on new projects or responsibilities, finding a balance between work and your personal life will be difficult. Instead of saying yes to everything, learn to set boundaries.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, gently decline new assignments or requests for help. It’s okay to say that you can’t take on any additional duties without diminishing your work quality.
4. Embrace Delegation
You may feel like you must ensure that everything is precise to your standards. But delegating some of your work to others and then trusting it to be completed can be your most brilliant moves.
If you’re not in a leadership role, you can still employ a bit of delegation. It will just need to be more diplomatic.
Consider asking for help if a team project overwhelms you or if a coworker has a more relevant skill set to the task at hand. Ask them to teach you or trade your tasks for a more streamlined final product.
If you are in the early levels of leadership, delegating can highlight that you’re ready to move up to more responsibility. It will help lighten your workload and allow you to build a team you can trust.
When choosing whom to delegate to, look for reliable people with the skill set to complete the task. You should also give them clear instructions and deadlines. And be sure to check in with them occasionally to ensure that the task is understood and completed correctly.
Delegating can be daunting at first, but it’s a valuable skill for any future leader to learn.
5. Avoid the Drama
Getting caught up in all the gossip and backstabbing can be easy, but it’s important to remember that getting involved in office politics is a quick way to sabotage your career.
Not only will it take up valuable time you could be using to do your job, but it will also make you look immature and unprofessional.
If you’re hoping to move into the next leadership level, staying above the fray and focusing on your work is essential.
6. Accept Constructive Feedback
No one likes to be told that they’re not doing something right, but constructive feedback is critical if you want to improve and grow in your career.
If your boss or a colleague provides input you’re not happy with, take a step back and consider if it has merit. Then, use it to improve your performance.
Getting defensive or pushing back against feedback will only make you look professionally immature and make it difficult for you to move forward.
After all, the more responsibility you have, the more frequent and varied the feedback becomes.
7. Become a Resource
Most promotions involve a shift in focus from personal output to overseeing a team’s production. One way to demonstrate that you’re ready to lead a team is by becoming a resource for your peers or newer team members.
Sharing knowledge and helping others grow shows that you’re focused on what’s best for the team, rather than just your personal goals.
This type of selfless behavior is often seen as leadership material and can help you stand out when vying for a promotion.
8. Keep Updating Your Skills
Ensure that you remain focused on your career development and stay current on changing trends within your field.
Not only does continuing education keep you relevant in your industry, but it demonstrates a passion that you can convey during your next annual performance review or interview for that promotion you’re craving.
- Take advantage of training opportunities offered by your employer.
- Join pertinent professional organizations.
- Read trade publications.
- Sign up for a conference or community college class.
Or, you can dip your toes into the remote learning pool and try an online course.
9. Make Time for Networking
Always remember the importance of connections to career progression. Strengthening current relationships and developing new ones can be valuable for learning about industry trends, job openings, and potential clients.
Build time into your week to be part of a LinkedIn group, drop a note to a former colleague, or engage in some industry-focused watercooler chat with current coworkers.
At gatherings, boost your network’s power by making a point of talking to people outside your own group or those who work in a different field.
A diverse network provides multiple opportunities for others to see the great things you bring to the table!
10. Learn the Art of Taking Breaks
We’ve all been there — staring at a computer screen for hours, feeling our energy levels dip and our concentration flag.
When we’re in the middle of a big project, it can be tempting to just power through and take as few breaks as possible.
However, research has repeatedly shown that regular breaks can help us be more productive.
Consider adopting a time management style, such as the Pomodoro Method, that will help you schedule your day in 25-minute periods followed by routine breaks to help build your productivity. You may find that the pauses are just what you need to get back on track.
Adjustments to Make Outside of Work
Creating a work-life balance requires you to prioritize your time and your energy outside of work hours as well. Ensure you’re approaching a healthy career from a holistic standpoint.
1. Unplug After Work
Can you imagine a world where you don’t check your emails or Slack messages?
If you say no, one of the best things you can do is create better boundaries and gift yourself downtime after work: no checking email, no working on projects, and no taking calls from clients or colleagues.
Once you’re done with work for the day, focus on enjoying your personal time.
This is especially true if you’re in a leadership role where your team often takes their cues from you. If you’re checking emails until the wee hours of the morning, they’re more likely to feel pressured to do the same.
Set the example by unplugging until work hours the following day.
2. Make Time for Personal Relationships
When is the last time you felt truly rejuvenated when you clocked in on Monday morning? Most likely, it was when you devoted time to relationships and activities that filled your happiness bucket.
Whether you’re catching up with your family or hanging out with friends, quality time with those you care about is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
And perhaps, the person you most need to spend time with is yourself. Ensure you’re spending time on hobbies and activities that relax you and jump-start your creativity.
3. Schedule Wellness
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With work, family, and other responsibilities, it can be tough to find time for yourself.
However, it’s important to remember that taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of others.
When you make time for wellness activities that you enjoy, you help to reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost your overall health.
So, next time you feel overwhelmed, take a step back and remember to schedule some exercise, meditation, or other rejuvenation time. You’ll be glad you did!
Creating a Work-Life Balance While Still Getting Ahead at Work
Working hard is important, but remember that there’s such a thing as working too hard.
If you’re finding it challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance, use these tips to get ahead at work without overworking yourself.