Who? What? When? Where? Why? These are key questions in exploring the American pastime of overworking.  I consider myself an expert in this particular way of being.

Who’s overworking? Well, I am, for one. I overwork myself. A co-worker of mine calls me a combination work and show horse. It’s really true. Also, I’m a Capricorn. We’re the “workhorse” of the zodiac. But staying with the show metaphor for a moment, I always marveled at stage performers who could do eight shows a week. I did here and there in my earlier live theater days. It’s a herculean ability don’t you think? What I failed to recognize was that this is how I’ve worked for years. And actually, I’ve worked much more than eight shows a week because I’ve almost always had two distinct careers going on at the same time along with some type of schooling.

What led me to overwork? In my earlier years, in addition to grade school, junior high, and high school, I was taking writing workshops, dance classes, singing lessons, and acting classes. Later it became anything psychology related, so a master’s degree and part of a doctoral degree. I did both of these programs while working full-time.  During the master’s I worked in television casting and production at a major studio, and during the doctoral program I worked full-time at a university in student services coaching. And lest I forget, during undergrad I waited tables to help put me through college and pay my rent. I was bred for overworking.

Maybe overworking is a judgment on my part. Anything worthwhile does seem to take time and effort. Then I guess it comes down to how I’m balancing my work and my recovery time. That’s one of the reasons I think sports are such a clear measure of human capacity.

When an athlete does or does not perform well, there’s a certain altitude utilized in looking at their performance. It lacks judgment, and instead approaches the measured result like a science.

In order to succeed as a professional athlete there is a science to success, but so few people follow this as corporate athletes. “The Power of Full Engagement” by James E. Loehr and Tony Schwartz, was the first book I read that addressed this science for us regular folk so clearly. I thought the heavens had opened up and delivered a miracle to me. Finally, someone put this work/recoup concept into printed words making it very hard to ignore.

But where, or how often in the corporate landscape do we see this success formula for the corporate athlete put to work? I know it’s so easy to point the finger. Truth be told, I’m the captain of my ship, and it’s ultimately up to me to take responsibility for the skipped lunches, late nights, and weekends of working. This is why it’s so important for us to take care of ourselves, run the experiment, and see if there’s really any validity to this work/recoup thing.

How do we dig down inside ourselves to bring about a better result? @barryaldenclark (Click to Tweet!)

Arianna Huffington says in her latest book, “The Sleep Revolution,” that we not only perform better in our lives and on our jobs when we get a good night’s sleep – seven to eight hours – we also have more sex. That caught my ear. Men’s erectile function increases. Guys, you have to admit, this is a strong argument for more sleep, though I have a feeling more sleep in and of itself won’t be a hard sell, but hard is the optimum word here.

Sexual function, all light-hearted banter aside, is only one of a number of beneficial effects we receive by not overworking ourselves.

Personally, I want myself, and every human being on this planet to live their best lives. I know some days are better than others. Some days we’re happy, productive, and fully alive, while other days we’re nursing a cold or a gin and tonic; it’s all part of the human condition.

Information is power, and I’m empowering myself more and more to live my life in a way that supports me in being fully present, as opposed to the other way around which is dying a slow, possibly painful, and incredibly dull life working all the time. I need to take time and listen to the birds chirp, and the brook babble.

Believe me, I am my own number one client. The good news is this big lab rat is getting smarter. Age has some advantage, and I’m using it. Finally, I’m learning to give myself the gift of recuperation, of replenishment, of taking care of myself.  n doing so I lead by example and my jeans fit, or my checkbook balances, or my acid reflux moves to the town next door called Cured.

It’s time to work less. Oh, I don’t think we have to worry too much here. The average American gets two weeks of paid vacation time, while in many European countries they receive four. The figures vary greatly and here in the U.S. many workers have no paid vacation. I don’t really think any of these figures matter ultimately. Here in the U.S. we live in a culture that values a strong work ethic. That’s a good thing, in my opinion, and it comes with a challenge or opportunity if you prefer, which calls us to question how we go about doing our work. My note here for myself is to look at how I’m working and combining that with my self-care, down time, as well as time with friends, family and community. It’s a balancing act that most of us struggle with continually.

Sleeping an extra hour, or taking a day off to rest, is not going to put you into the category of sloth. You’re still viable. The main effects of your extra hour of sleep or day of rest will be higher levels of productivity at work, more time for yourself and your family, and most likely a longer life span. But test it out for yourself. See if a solid dose of self-care makes you a better person, at work and at home. Something tells me it will, and then watch out world, we’re going to be a lot more rested, and then, world peace.

Barry Alden Clark has coached thousands of individuals in connecting more deeply with their hearts, their life purpose, and helped create a pathway for these folks to move forward in a direction more aligned with who they truly are. He & his creative partner Eliza Swords are currently delivering uplifting content on social media every Wednesday via “Best Day Ever with Barry and Eliza”, a Facebook and You-Tube phenomenon reaching thousands of people around the world. They are also inspiring love and joy through creating heartfelt and entertaining content via their production company Pure Honey Ink. Currently they have projects in development for social media, film, television and publishing. You can reach Barry at www.barryaldenclark.com.

Image courtesy of kaboompics.com.