“Oh my God, it’s been so busy.” If you work in an American office, you probably hear this – and its companions: “I’m so stressed,” “I only slept for X number of hours last night“ and “I’m just so slammed with work” -a lot, from your colleagues, your boss, and even yourself. Our workplace culture tends to place a premium on stress and busyness, but at what cost to employee effectiveness, happiness, and sustainability? As a VISTA contemplating my future career path, I’ve become aware of the office culture surrounding working overtime and always being ‘so busy.’

According to the Center for Disease Control, stress-related illnesses and disabilities cost employers millions of dollars each year. Stress and overwork make you more susceptible to illness, less likely to have a healthy work-life balance, and more likely to make mistakes on the job. Many of us do important work, and sometimes you’ll be stressed because there’s a lot going on, or you’re on a tricky project, or something has gone awry in your personal life, and there’s no shame in that. What I’d like to move away from is the wide-held belief that if you aren’t stressed and aren’t complaining about how busy you are, you aren’t doing enough. Instead, let’s focus on doing our jobs well and efficiently and letting others do theirs.

So, yes, we’re all busy. But maybe we should be a little less busy, and my New Year’s resolution? To never again tell someone I’m so busy.


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