When was the last time you felt bad about something you did — or didn’t do? You can probably name something just about every day both in and out of the office. Work guilt has become an epidemic. And overworked equals underproductive, putting you in the Office Doghouse.
Stop the guilt and increase productivity by learning to recognize the ways we let guilt overtake our productivity.
Not taking breaks.
In a survey conducted by Staples, the results showed that 90% of employers say they encourage breaks. Yet 55% of employees feel like they can’t leave their desks to take one. That same survey revealed the majority of workers acknowledge taking a break would make them more productive. So what’s stopping them? Maybe a little encouragement. Employers need to play their part in creating a break-taking culture. Adding a well-equipped break room goes a long way in acknowledging that relieving stress throughout the workday is important
Asking for help.
Guilt, Susan Dominus, New York Times Magazine, wrote, is “that feeling that nags at you as you rush into the office, sweating, knowing that you are already late, or as you slip out for a ‘meeting’ that is, in fact, a much-needed haircut appointment.”
Lying about the time we need for self-care is a warning sign we feel guilty about needing that time for ourselves. And it doesn’t stop there.
Fear of shirking family responsibilities also discourages us from asking for help. Care.com conducted a survey of working moms in which 29% of respondents felt guilty about hiring someone to assist with things at home for fear of missing out on important moments. Simultaneously 79% of responders felt trying to keep up with home-life caused them to fall behind at work.
It makes sense that 75% of these same respondents saw an overall reduction in stress when they did hire outside help for home, family care, or work. Guilt has multiple sources and is not limited to working moms.
Comparing yourself to others.
Sometimes you just have to get off social media. It’s hard not to compare our own lives to the “perfect lives” of friends and acquaintances on Facebook. Maybe if we’d just done things a little differently, we too could have a perfect life. When we perceive someone is doing better, we feel guilty or inadequate in comparison.
Feeling guilty about how your performance stacks up to others is a waste of mental energy and time. Squandering precious minutes comparing yourself to others is only going to cause you more guilt and more stress.
There are many reasons people don’t go on vacation. “Vacation Shaming” accounts for about half of workers feeling shame or guilt for taking time off work for fear of looking less dedicated than their peers.
But that logic is kind of counter-intuitive in that spending “less time at your desk forces you to waste less time.” Stepping away for a few minutes or a few days enhances productivity while you are at work.
You’re not busy enough.
How many times have you said you work best under pressure? Most of us do. People feel more motivated to complete tasks when they’re busy. However, being extremely busy can cause us to make more mistakes. But we offset our guilt over those mistakes with the fact we were so much more productive and simply move on. To the contrary, when we don’t have industriousness to fall back on, we punish ourselves for such mistakes.
Staying busy at work might seem like a tall order but there are ways to keep up your motivation and productivity when your work load drops.
You have action bias.
We’ve all had friends who we have upset at one time or another. When that happens, we know the best thing to do is to step away and give them space. Not giving them space is known as a “bias for action.” Business Dictionary defines action bias as the “propensity to act or decide without customary analysis or sufficient information.” The Ready? Fire! Aim method.
Some of us are wired to take action and get things done. So when we have to spend time on nonessential tasks like brainstorming, strategizing, or catching up on industry news, we freak out. Ironically, we are far more productive when taking the time to understand a project and plan it out rather than jumping right in.
The Zeigarnik Effect.
The Zeigarnik Effect according to Merriam-Webster is “the psychological tendency to remember an uncompleted task rather than a completed one.”
No matter how productive we’ve been, it seems like we dwell on the things we didn’t get done. When we go back to that task we approach it with renewed focus and problem solving; often achieving better results than if we had pushed through. Supporting the advice to step away for a bit, take a break, without feeling bad about it.
So the next time you have to step away from what you’re doing or ask for help, don’t feel guilty. You’ll be glad you did.
To read the complete article: 7 Ways You’re Letting Guilt Sabotage Your Work
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