Warning! The negative consequences of working too much

The negative consequences of working too much


Too much of a good thing is not so good after all. This old saying applies to working too much as well. Work in and of itself is a good thing. It is a means to survive, bring opportunities to pursue goals, provides meaning and a sense of worth. There are many, many positives to working. On the other hand, there are many negative consequences to working too much that so many people overlook. Even if you enjoy your job, you are likely harming yourself if you spend loads of hours engrossed in the adrenaline of working too much. Many of the dangers are hidden because they do not impact you instantly. The impact of living an imbalance life, however, tend to have long term effects on health, relationships, and productivity.




The biggest effect that working too much has on you is in the area of health. Research has shown that people who work too much are often extremely stressed out about work itself, things going on at work, relationships at work, whether their job is in jeopardy, the changes at work, the amount of pay, whether they are going to get promoted, or why they didn’t get promoted; the list goes on and on. This buildup of stress leads to chronic medical conditions such as heart problems, high blood pressure, weight gain, insomnia, and infertility. It has also been the cause of less subtle conditions like poor posture, bad knees, poor eyesight, failing hearing, migraines and back pain. The stress from work and the stress from failing health then lead to psychological stress. A racing mind, depression, loneliness are the psychological casualties of working too much.


family at dinner


Secondly, relationships suffer when you prioritize work over family and friends. Your home environment will be full of chaos, nagging, and conflict when you choose work over family relationships and home responsibilities. What tends to happen with relationships is that workaholics begin to treat family and personal obligations as burdens. When family and friends have natural demands and you begin to disappoint them when you miss activities because of work, it creates tension in your relationships. Workaholics may not recognize that it is the imbalance of work responsibilities that is the underlying cause of the tension and chaos in the house. When work causes you to miss dinner time, to miss children’s dance recital or sporting events, to miss paying a bill, to miss a friend’s birthday party or to forego a vacation, it is not because your family is being inconsiderate or not understanding; it is time to put the priority you have placed on work over family relationships in its proper place. You must find balance and work in moderation.



It is a surprise to many people that productivity actually decreases when you work long hours. This is a reason why the saying “work smarter, not harder” has become so popular. Working in excess is a killer of productivity. This has been proven as far back as 1920’s when Ford Automobile Corporation proved that the reduced workweek of 40 hours was far more productive than a 48 hour workweek. Down time is important physically and to rejuvenate and recharge your thinking. Think about the typical workday. Have you ever wondered why the government has mandated breaks in the workday? It has been proven that taking breaks is as beneficial for employers as they are for the employees. You, your family, your company, and our society wins when we work in moderation. In general, most people agree that time spent with family, raising well rounded children, being involved in community service, entertaining one another is as necessary as work is for a civilized, thriving society.

So it doesn’t matter why you are working excessively, working too much is an enemy that robs you of health, family, and productivity.  Your long term success is dependent on you finding an appropriate balance that allows for time to relax, develop self-interests, enjoy family and friends, and work.

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8 Replies to “Warning! The negative consequences of working too much

  1. This article is a great reminder to have better work-life balance. Makes me think about the work culture in Japan which contributes to a quite a large number of suicides. Now, the Japan government has come up with a program to alleviate the problem. Thanks for an insightful article as this one. Looking forward to more!

    1. Lilywong, you bring up an excellent point! Karoshi, death by overwork, is the extreme negative consequence. It is my understanding that in Japan the statistics suggests that one in five workers are at risk of karoshi. I believe we do not recognize that as an alternative in United States because the culture is not forced; but yet the stress from overwork could still lead to death. It is a much slower and voluntary process here in the US. Thank you for your insight as well. I want to educate as many people as I can about the hidden dangers of working long hours.

  2. I’m often called a workaholic. I always feel the need to be constantly working or I’m like a failure or slacker or something…
    It makes me feel guilty about taking breaks. In the middle of each day I take an hour lunch break to eat and watch a TV show of a series I’m in the middle of. I feel like I’m wasting my time but it’s something I really enjoy. What do you think about that?

    1. Gabriela, I can tell by your comment, you are a great worker and an asset to your employer. I am happy to hear that you do at least break for lunch and to detox from work by doing something you enjoy. I want to encourage you to do more breaks, and you can do them without leaving your desk. It is mentally and physically healthier for you to practice taking breaks often. Many experts recommend taking a brief break to stand, walk, or even taking a deep breath hourly to maintain good health. Don’t feel guilty because you are helping your company and coworkers by staying healthy. We have to educate as many people as we can that being healthy makes us smarter and more productive workers. Getting burnt out is far more costly to everyone.

  3. Hello and thanks for sharing, i know all to well about this, sure the bills has to be paid and all of that other good stuff but at the seem time like you pointed out there are some things that can suffer greatly becaus eof this like your health and your relationship with your family and that is not good at all. But thanks for this infromative post for those who like to burn the midnight oil so to speak.

    1. Work is necessary, and even enjoyable; but it’s all about balance. I run into people almost everyday who have worked 8 – 10 hours without even dedicating time for a lunch break. I encourage them to at least start small by committing to a 10 minute walk away from work activity. Just 10 minutes. Do you realize, that even that is difficult for some people? I just want people to be more in tune to what they are really doing.

  4. Hey Claudette:

    Thanks for the reminder. Getting bitten by the Over-Do Bug is a likely possibility for anybody who cares about what they do…whether it’s work or some other passion.

    You go into warp mode because of some overwhelming To-Do list and then, for whatever reason, you just keep taking on more and more until finally the whole world starts looking like a series of unchecked check boxes. Warp speed doesn’t shut off and you and your world get warped.

    As long as you are trucking along and remembering to refuel along the way — good food, good people in your life, a good bit of loving, rest, play, and a goodly number of deep breaths, it works better. And you do too….

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