Compromising Quality for Productivity: Are You Over-worked?

When I started working with Martin we talked a lot about how important a work-life balance is. In many aspects of life it is important to learn to prioritize so we can be healthy as well as to be useful in the workplace. Even when we’re packed with lots of work and crazy busy schedules it is important to make time for the things that matter.

I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about what it means to be overworked and when does aiming to reach productivity goals compromise quality? Are we as a generation working ourselves into the ground to make a couple extra dollars?

Most days I seriously consider quitting one of my four jobs so I can have better peace of mind when I am finally at home relaxing. But as a recent university graduate I really struggled with finding work in the first year out of school. Then one opportunity came, so I took it, and then two others and then finally one last one. Knowing how it feels to be strapped for money every day with things to pay such as a car payment, insurance, rent, groceries and the ever so daunting student loans, I did not want to pass up a single job opportunity because you never know how long you’ll get to keep that opportunity.

Fast forward two months and I am starting to believe that I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew and I feel like I’m drowning in work. I then get a little glimpse of the life I am striving for and it keeps me afloat, gasping for air. While thinking about writing this blog I started wondering if I am causing myself to be over-worked. Which in all fairness, is nobodies doing except for my own. I want to succeed in all aspects of my life including every job that I have taken on.

In today’s work environment there is such a stress on productivity and employees exceeding expectations of their employers that sometimes it is forgotten that the value of a work-life balance is what leads us to ultimate productivity. Not all employers are productivity focused but I have found that the majority are focused on the work that gets done and the money that it brings into the business. When I hear the word productivity I think about the idea of “who can get the most work done in a set amount of time while still generating quality work”. Is productivity the most important thing in a business? Is there a way to still be productive and not be over-worked or pushed to continually meet new expectations?

The dictionary states that productivity is “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services”. Nowhere in this definition does it talk about the speed at which these goods and services are being brought forth, which I found to be very interesting. After reading this definition I started wondering if there was a better word to use rather than productivity. As I was thinking I came across the word efficiency and asked myself what does efficiency mean to me?

I narrowed it down to “the ability to produce something in a timely manner that meets expectations on a consistent basis”. The word efficiency seems like a much better fit for what productivity seems to stand for.

Is there a word that combines both efficiency and productivity? Is productivity the way we measure efficiency? How does all of this help to decide if people are really over-worked?

Over-working and the demand that it puts on people is a controversial topic because everyone has a different view of what it means to be over-worked, if that is even a thing at all. As I asked my friends, other people I work with and even an employer of mine, there were so many different opinions on the topic that it made me believe that I can’t just give a straight forward opinion on this because I don’t know where I stand with it.

So I ask anybody reading, what are your thoughts on the topic? Are people in today’s workplace over-worked? Is being over-worked something that is actually possible? Do we just lack in the skills we need to prioritize properly? Are employers asking too much of their employees?

As I continue moving forwards in deciding what I believe on the topic I remember two quotes and hope they will help uncover a final opinion on it all; “find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” and “work smarter, not harder”.