• Paul McGovern

Why you should ignore National Work Life Week

October 2nd-6th 2017 is National Work Life Week. Here are seven reasons you might want to ignore it.

1) You want to be less efficient at work

Humans have a finite ability to focus, limited stamina and a worsening of performance when they don’t take enough rest. Use these features to your advantage by spending as much time as possible at work, well in excess of your contracted hours. The benefits add up with even more time – as you get progressively more exhausted you’ll become less and less efficient. Time spent getting through work effectively in short manageable bursts becomes hours and days spent mindlessly glaring at a screen getting nothing done. Compound the effect by checking Facebook regularly, to keep you distracted from the task in hand.

2) You think the quality of your work is too high, and want to reduce it

With reduced focus and increased exhaustion comes a much greater error rate. Resist anything that may be restorative such as relaxing with people you like, or spending time engaged in activities you enjoy. These will only serve to rejuvenate your tired brain and reduce the chance of your making mistakes.

3) You want to take more sick leave

Maintaining a total focus on work to the detriment of all other aspects of your life is an excellent way to make yourself unwell, and increase the chance you’ll need to take sick leave. Different people respond in different ways and at different rates – some will get colds more frequently, others will feel depressed, others will get tummy aches or high blood pressure. The key thing to remember is that if you keep the pressure up for long enough, you will break somehow, and you will attain your goal of ill-health. 

4) You want to avoid promotion and success in your career

People who are successful are able to find a balance that allows them to work sustainably over the long term. Take no heed of their example. By working all hours of the day and night you demonstrate to your boss that you don’t value yourself. This helps them recognise that they shouldn’t value you either, and that you are the ideal person to be looked over for promotion. 

5) You want to prove well-meaning people wrong

Some do-gooders may tell you to take it easy and that you’re not a machine. They are wrong because you are indeed a biological machine. Feel smug in the knowledge that even if you weren’t, their point would be irrelevant because machines need care and maintenance to function. As you’re not a machine, you can go on forever and nothing will ever make you stop working. Ignore those who tell you this doesn’t make sense – you have important work to do.

6) You think sleeping is boring and stupid

Work need not be confined to the workplace – smartphones allow your job to joyfully infect every waking moment. Keep your phone by your bedside to increase the chance of your sleep being disrupted, and be sure to answer every email immediately. Your colleagues can provide additional help – by replying to them at 3am, you train them to expect a response every time. If one day you don’t answer instantaneously, they will criticise you for dropping the ball; motivating you to work even more ineffectively, just to keep up appearances. With sufficient dedication, work will even enter your dreams. Double win!

7) You wish to sabotage your relationships with friends and family

Who doesn’t like having a conversation interrupted by a buzzing phone, followed by a dramatic stomping-off while muttering ‘I’ve got to take this?’ People who’ll get in the way of more work-time, that’s for sure. By putting work above everything else, you show people who think they’re important to you that they are not. Even if work is quiet and your colleagues are inconsiderately taking a holiday, you will be so irritable and anxious that people who were once close to you will drift away. 

Do you have any more reasons to ignore work life week? Please feel free to share them in the comments!


I don’t want you to follow this advice.This somewhat inverted approach is taken in an excellent book (How to be miserable: 40 Strategies you already use – Randy Paterson, New Harbinger, 2016). I commend it to you, and I hope you achieve a good work-life balance if you haven’t already. Please feel free to comment below if you have any useful suggestions (as well as useless ones).

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