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Is working weekends good for you?

29 July 2016, 10:47Carmen Williams

You’ve had a hectic week. You’ve had to finish reports, send what feels like 5 million emails, went to countless meetings and had to take so many phone calls your ear hurts – but you still have work to do. So now you play catch up over the weekend.

But is this good for you?

Well, it seems there are arguments both for and against spending the weekend working or eating and binge-watching that show you keep meaning to watch.

According to research done by Harvard Business Review, one of the reasons some of us like working weekends (yes, these people do actually exist, but we’d really rather not be friends with them) is because we receive pleasure from being productive and getting things done.

In a study HBR conducted to measure when employed individuals felt happiest, people reported feeling happiest and at their best when they were being productive. It seems that, by feeling productive, we believe we’re doing our bit to make the world a better place. Which is actually quite sweet when you think about it, isn’t it?

Further research also suggests that we work even when we should be resting, in order to earn beyond our needs. Now you might think this could be to provide more for our families, or to put something away for a ‘rainy day’ or a treat, but even when these reasons were eliminated, participants still gave up on pleasure in order to earn more.

Eventually, it was concluded that people will work hard to earn as much as they can, no matter their pay rate; and their earning desire was not based on incentive, but on how much work they can and will do.

But, what about taking a break? We all need to rest, right? No one wants to get burnt out.

Well, you definitely should.

Another study conducted by HBR - this time to examine the potential drawbacks of working your brain too hard - they found that repeated use of cognitive resources (that’s fancy for: the more you use your noodle for work) leads to you being less likely to look after yourself properly. Which means that working too much isn’t good for your self-care capacities.

And it’s not great for your overall health either. According to CNN, more hours in the office equals a greater risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

A 2009 paper suggests that people who work less hours a week sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed than those who worked more than 40 hours a week.

And if all of that isn’t reason enough to put away your laptop for a few hours, there’s this research which shows that overworked and overtired people are more likely to misread other people’s emotions and therefore be a little bit (or perhaps a lot) of a jerk.

So, what are we saying? Should you check your email on Saturdays or not? Well, if it makes you happy, go ahead, but remember to take breaks and make time for yourself (and those closest to you) too.


Tags weekend work

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