Let me ask you something. How many hours a week do you work? How many of these hours are OVER the number of hours you’re paid for? Of course, it’s not just paid work. We often measure our success by the number of tasks we accomplish or the number of achievements we accumulate. As a society, we glorify hustle culture but it’s time to acknowledge that your worth isn’t tied to your workload (paid or not). This blog post aims to explore the idea that your true value goes far beyond the amount of work you do.
The Lie of Measuring Worth by Productivity
When we equate our worth with our productivity, it's easy to fall into the trap of overworking and neglecting other aspects of our lives. I know I have done, and continue to tie my worth to my workload when I am not paying attention. I don’t mean to but I feel the pressure to constantly be productive, from outside AND from inside my mind. It’s as if our value as individuals hinges on our ability to meet work-related goals. But in my experience (and that of the people I talk to), this mindset is a direct route to burnout, stress, and feelings of inadequacy when we can't keep up with the unrealistic standards we set for ourselves.
There’s a quote by Steve Chandler that goes something like this: “You don’t go into a shop where the shopkeeper brings out the scales to measure your worth” and it always makes me chuckle at the image because I imagine myself in Diagon Alley on a set of big gold scales! We can’t (literally) measure our worth as more or less than our friends, family, or other people in the world…and yet, we do.
So today I want to call this out. Measuring your worth based on productivity is at best a misunderstanding and at worst, a total lie. Your value is intrinsic and is not contingent on external achievements or the number of tasks you complete. It is not determined by how much you can accomplish in a day, a week, or a year. Your worth is rooted in your uniqueness, your character, your relationships, and your ability to contribute positively to the world.
Just be you
You are unique and bring your own set of qualities, talents, and perspectives to the table. We all do and this is what makes the world rich and diverse. You are valuable because of your individuality, not because you can work tirelessly or accomplish a certain number of tasks. Your experiences, background, and the way you see the world all contribute to your unique value.
Let’s take a moment to consider this: How do we measure inspiration from art? What about the influence that a teacher has on shaping a child’s mind? How do we measure the effect that the support from a caregiver provides? These contributions can’t be measured by productivity, they are often immeasurable, defined only by how they make us feel. And of course, we all feel differently about things - ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ and all that.
Embrace being you and understand that your true value lies in the combination of your talents, experiences, and personal qualities. Recognise that your worth is not defined by how many tasks you complete but by the distinct perspective and potential you bring to the world.
The Importance of Work-Life Balance
I started this post talking about working over your hours and your worth isn't tied to your workload. So what about work-life balance? I would say that 95% of my clients come to me because they feel like they want a better work-life balance. Here is one of the most common things I hear - “There’s so much work, I can’t get on top of it, but I can’t say no”
Feeling this way is really common and if this is true for you, be kind to yourself. It is easy to fall into an unbalanced life, where you feel exhausted and are neglecting your needs - physical, emotional and social.
Here are some things you can do to help restore some balance at work (and anywhere else it’s needed)
Set clear boundaries
Be clear on when you are working and when you aren’t and communicate it with those around you. Avoid checking or answering work emails in your personal time and try not to bring work home with you on a regular basis.
Prioritise your tasks
Use time management techniques like the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize tasks. Focus on high-impact, important tasks and delegate or eliminate less critical ones. I would also encourage blocking out time in your calendar to get the task done.
Take regular breaks
The recommendation is that you take 5-10 mins per hour. I know this isn’t always practical but it is important to take breaks. This isn’t something I am great at, but I am working on it. Recently I have been making my meetings 50 minutes long or 25 minutes long to give me a bit of a breather. Taking a lunch break is really important too, to take time off and give your brain a break.
Communicate with Your Manager
If you're feeling overwhelmed, have an open and honest conversation with your manager. Discuss workload and expectations, and seek their support in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Your Worth Isn’t Tied To Your Workload
Your value is not diminished when you take time to rest, spend quality moments with loved ones, or pursue hobbies and interests that bring you joy. In fact, these activities can enhance your overall well-being and make you more effective and creative in your work.