Ask Dew: Do I Work Too Much?

Dew: I get so much done when I work on Saturday and Sunday, but then I feel guilty. If I’m working everyday, is that too much work? -Nigel

Businessman Near Lake Too Much Work

Nigel, I would guess that if you feel guilty for working on the weekend it’s because you’re not setting proper expectations with your family or you’re not holding yourself true to honoring your time during the week. This can lead to you needing the weekend to “catch up.”

Ouch! I hit a sore spot there, didn’t I?

Regardless of what your scenario is, being honest with yourself about your time is the first step. It’s critical that you “own” your time – meaning you have to tell your day what to do, not the opposite. When I’m working with my coaching clients, I help them create an ideal week. On a regular basis I see ideal weeks that include a late working night and/or some time allocated to working on the weekend. As long as they have an organized calendar and they have time allocated for their family/personal events, then I don’t necessarily consider this too much work.

How Much Work Is Too Much Work?

I wouldn’t focus on the actual number of hours you work. To be honest, I know of very few successful small business owners or entrepreneurs who work less than 50 hours per week (and I would say that every commissioned sales person is a small business owner to some degree).

So instead of thinking about how many hours you work (or even WHEN you are working them), it would be more important to focus on how your work is affecting the rest of your life.

“Life Blend”, not “Work/Life Balance”

People talk and write a lot about work/life “balance”, which I always pictured as a see-saw with work on one side, personal life on the other side, and a constant competition to make them be equal. This thinking is totally out of date, in my opinion. I like to think of it more of a “blend” than a balance. Taking it a step farther, work is just another healthy part of life, so I like to drop the “work” from the title completely, and refer to it simply as life balance, or even better: “life blend’. When you have a good life blend, then all aspects (work, financial, personal, family, spiritual/religious, education, fitness, etc.) leak into each other until you reach a level of harmony.

For example: it’s quite possible to work 50-60 hours a week (or even more), yet still make time for all of your kid’s class parties and soccer games, have date nights with your significant other, and even have dinner with your family every night. But it takes a lot of commitment, a flexible schedule, proper planning and plenty of communication with the rest of your family.

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and author of excellent book Lean In, is famous for working a lot of hours – but she is also famous for leaving the office at 5:30 every day so she can have dinner with her family. How is that possible? She starts work early, and then she gets back online and works a couple of hours after her kids go to bed, etc.

When you’ve got a good life blend, your personal time and your work time will each get the “right” amount of focus. And this can vary greatly from week to week: there will be some weeks (i.e. weddings, births, family illnesses or deaths, etc.) where work gets very little time, and there will be certain “harvest periods” where you work many more hours than normal. This is why planning EVERY week in advance is so important.

Planning + Communication + Flexibility = Good Work/Life Blend

My entire career I’ve been a “work at night” and “work on the weekend” kind of gal. I love what I do (and frankly, I don’t see a lot of it as work), so I have no issues working outside the typical 9-5 hours. BUT –  I’ve set proper expectations with my family (and with myself). My ideal week includes date night (which happens every week), so Shane and I always have plenty of “us” time. It also typically includes 1 late working night, and some dedicated “work” time during the weekend. In fact, all my blog writing is done on Sundays (I find it quite therapeutic to write on Sunday).

Working odd hours doesn’t have to be stressful or guilt-inducing. You just need to be sure that it’s planned and agreed upon by everyone involved. I often find myself casually clearing out my email inbox and cleaning up loose ends while I relax on the beach, for example.

So, instead of feeling guilty about working extra during off hours, I want you to evaluate what you’re doing during the week to throw your schedule off that’s requiring extra work on the weekend. Is your weekend work planned? Do you have enough time in your schedule dedicated to family time, personal time, etc.? Are you being honest with yourself (and others) about the amount of work on your plate and the time you need to allocate every week to do it?

And of course, if you need some more detailed help (or even an intervention) to get your time management under control, feel free seek out a professional (like me: hint, hint!).

Until next time – go sell something!

Got a sales, management or business question? Send it to or submit it on my Facebook page and I’ll try to answer it in a future article.


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