Ep 117. Break free from over-working

Aug 2, 2020 | Podcast

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If you’re someone who feels the need to be ‘productive’ every day in order to feel worthy or you’re close to burning out because you’re always over-working and so ‘crazy busy’, this episode is for you.

In this solo episode I speak about:

  • Why you don’t have to earn your time off
  • Where our addiction to busyness comes from 
  • How to make the most of your time working 
  • Why the 9-5 way of working is outdated and just plain wrong


Hello, and welcome to the Calmer You podcast. This is your host, Chloe Brotheridge. I’m a coach and hypnotherapist, and I’m the author of the Anxiety Solution, and Brave New Girl. This podcast is all about helping you to become your calmest, happiest and most confident self.

Close to my heart

Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode. Thank you so much for listening. Today, I’m going to be talking about a topic which is not only something that is close to my heart. I’ve struggled with a lot myself, but I would say it’s a very common thing that I see when I’m working with people one on one. It also comes up when speaking with friends and on social media. It comes up a lot.

Do we need to earn our rest?

It’s this idea that we need to earn our rest. That we have to be productive all the time. Even just reading a book alone at the end of a long day, that is somehow not okay. There’s this internal pressure that we put on ourselves. Also pressure from society, from other people, from social media that we have to be producing, doing something, quote-unquote worthwhile nearly all the time.

Breaking free from over-working

So if you relate to this, if this is ringing some bells or recognition in your mind, then stay tuned to this episode because I’m going to be exploring this topic. Also, offering practical tips that you can do to break free from over-working.

If you haven’t already checked out my website, www.calmer-you.com, you can head over there. I’ve got loads of freebies for you. Those are things for you to get involved with. Whether you’re looking to calm your mind, feel more confident, grow your self-belief, there’s tonnes over there. So do head over and grab those freebies.

Work with me

I just want to let you know that I see a select number of one to one clients. At the moment I have a few slots available. I see everyone online. So I use a programme called zoom, it works incredibly well. And I do a powerful combination of hypnotherapy and coaching. If you want to check it out, you can head to my website.

9 to 5 is outdated

The first topic that I wanted to get into is this idea around nine to five and working five days a week. We’ve kind of taken it for granted that this is like the best way people do it all over the world. This way of working is really out-dated. It was actually brought in by Henry Ford in 1926. For factory workers, Henry Ford is thinking about how can we squeeze as much work out of these factory workers without our without killing them basically.

Obviously nowadays, we work in such a different way. We are using our minds more than our bodies, we’re working creatively, we’re sitting down at a desk, we’re not working in factories. It is completely illogical to assume that working nine to five, or more realistically working eight till six or eight till 10 o’clock at night sometimes. This way of working does not suit the type of work that we do.

Over-working in this way doesn’t support our productivity

It doesn’t suit the human brain and the human body and doesn’t suit our happiness. It doesn’t suit our productivity. And they’re doing more and more studies into things like a four day week or a six hour working day. Studies are looking at how this can actually increase people’s happiness at work and productivity. Also, increase their ability to be creative and nuture positive relationships with other people at work.

Firstly let’s not assume for a minute that this is the best way of doing things. And I’ve spoken to a lot of other creative people. I’ve spoken to a lot of authors in particular, and time after time, people will say, there’s no way that I do any more than about four or five hours of writing a day. It’s literally impossible for me to do that.

There is a different way of working

You know, when you think about it like that, four or five hours of focused work rather than eight hours of going and surfing Facebook, or going and chatting to someone by the watercooler. You know, maybe there is a different way of working, that doesn’t involve sitting at our desk and over-working. Then maybe beating ourselves up because we’re not being so productive within those eight hours. It’s because it doesn’t really suit us to work that way.

The wrong messages

The next thing I wanted to mention was how much our mindset around work has been influenced by capitalism and our consumerist culture that we live in. The sense that over-working and how much money you make defines how successful you are. All these messages are kind of drummed into us from an early age from watching TV shows about people that have lots of money and amazing clothes and handbags and how that can lead to happiness. Or this glamorous kind of lifestyle that we’ve been sold.

How much do we need to be happy

Yet, let’s be real, we know in fact, they’ve done studies into this, if you are earning over 50,000 pounds a year, that does not contribute to more happiness. So more money does not equal more happiness people. Yes, we need money in order to meet our needs to be comfortable and not worry. And, yes, 50,000 pounds is over the national average. But if we’re striving and pushing ourselves to make more and more money because we think it will make us happier, studies show that isn’t true.

Busy porn

Striving and pushing and putting pressure on ourselves and over-working and burning out is actually leading to us not being happy, then, what is the actual point? Then to throw into the mix, this idea that busy is a badge of honour. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the term busy porn. This basically means people bragging or maybe humble bragging about how busy they are and that they haven’t even got time to breathe, or have time to go to the toilet. They certainly don’t have time to meditate. Far too busy for that. And actually, there’s this glamorization of over-working.

If over-working doesn’t feel good that’s not success

If busy doesn’t feel good for you, it certainly doesn’t feel good for me, then that’s not successful. Perhaps, when you look back at your life, you can see that your mom was someone that was always on the go, she wasn’t working, she was cleaning, or she was studying or she was doing something else. Or maybe your dad, you know, had very high standards or he was a workaholic and over-working, or there was a sense that you know, no matter what you do, it’s never quite good enough.

Where does this need to over-work come from?

I invite you to look back in your life and see if you can pinpoint where This attitude of needing to work all the time or needing to be busy all the time actually come from. More than likely you’re going to find it somewhere in your past and it is this subconscious programme that we take on board and that can stay with us.

To-do lists

We all live by our to do less. I don’t know where we’d be without it, honestly. I have so many to do lists, it’s ridiculous. But we often labour under this assumption that we will one day be done with our to do list that one day we will take everything off our to do list everything will get done. And then we can relax then we’ve earned our rest. Then we know that we can fully enjoy a book or finally get into that box at knowing that we’ve done everything that needs to get done.

Being ok with an undone to-do list

But guess what? Your to-do list is never done. There will always be a constant stream of more things to do. Let’s let go of the idea that we’re suddenly gonna get everything done. That day never comes. Life is constantly changing. There’s constantly new things to be doing. We’ve got new ideas, new projects, new requests, new demands on our time. Let’s just let go of the idea that we can ever be done. And actually be okay with having an undone to-do list and be okay with whatever we got done that day. actually be okay with whatever we have done that day.

Focus on what you have gotten done

Instead of thinking about all the things that we haven’t done because there’s gonna be a million of them every single day, let’s focus on what we have gotten done.

Rest is productive

Put rest on your to-do list. We cannot have productivity without rest. We cannot have creative or meaningful quality work without recharging ourselves.

Repeat: I need to rest to be my best

So I like to say the cheesy phrase: I need rest to be at my best. It feels good to say.

Focus on what you have achieved each day. Give yourself credit for that, even if it’s a tiny thing, even if you just managed to have a shower and take the bins out today, it’s absolutely fine. Be proud of yourself.

Focus on the good things

When you have such a critical mind or you’re on the anxious side, your mind is always going to go to the worst-case scenario, the problems, the criticisms, the imperfections. We need to train our minds to focus on the good things and focus on the things that we are doing instead. Over-working isn’t one of them.

Another interesting thing about rest, when your brain is in fight or flight, racing heart, sweaty palms, that’s not supportive. It’s that inner tension or maybe feeling in your stomach, maybe you get a bit fuzzy headed, and can’t focus that easily when you’re in fight or flight. Our brains are not that well equipped to doing office work or creative work. When we’re in fight or flight, it difficult to write a blog post or spreadsheets or you know proofreading an email. It is not ideal because a lot of blood flow goes away from the frontal cortex, the part of your brain that is rational that is clear thinking that helps you to make rational decisions.

How to prioritise what you need for productive work

We are not in a good state to do good work when we’re in fight or flight. When we are over-working. And that’s another reason why it’s so important to prioritise rest, taking breaks, taking care of yourself, having time off. Turn your phone off at the end of the day. Try having no work emails on a Sunday rule, because it’s actually going to mean that you are more able to do better work.

What do you want people to remember about you?

Relationships improve when we’re calmer. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this I certainly have. Irritability is a massive symptom of stress and anxiety. So another really strong reason to take care of yourself more and take a step back from things and I invite you to really think about what is important to you in your life. What are your top priorities because think about it this way, you know, when it gets to your funeral one day when you die, by the way, we’re going to die one day, sorry to break it.

At your funeral people are not going to be saying, you know, Sandra was amazing at getting spreadsheets done on time. Or, you know, I never saw Lisa have a spelling mistake in an email or she had the most amazing collection of handbags. That is definitely not what people are gonna be saying at your funeral.

Focus on what really matters

Let’s Get Real. Let’s focus on the things that really matter to us, the things that are most important, because life is so precious. A book written by an Australian end of life nurse, addresses the top five regrets of the dying. Number two on that list is I wish I hadn’t been over-working. I don’t want you to be one of those people. That is on your deathbed.

Hopefully many years from now, you are not regretting over-working or not spending enough time with loved ones or not following that creative pursuit, not taking the time to read novels and enjoy them or watch boxsets or switch off on holiday.

What is most important to you

Think about what really matters to you and what is most important to you in your life. How can you incorporate more of that into your life? How can you remind yourself of what really matters to you and what is most important, so that when you find yourself getting caught into that spiral of dizziness or over-work or getting close to burning out, you can come back to what matters to you most. Life is not a race. If you are racing through your life, over-working, you are racing towards your death. It’s cheesy but we do need to slow down in order to smell the roses or the coffee or whatever it is that you want to be smelling.

Over-working and being productive is not the rent that you pay to exist, you are worthy, you are deserving of just existing. You don’t need to be productive and over-working all the time in order to earn your oxygen.

As human beings, we are so incredible. We have the most complex bodies and minds of any known creature in the universe. We’ve been evolving out of stardust for billions of years. And we are connected to nature. We are not machines designed to produce and make things at the expense of our own well being.

What are we here for?

I really believe that we’re all here to be happy. We’re all here to learn and grow and enjoy our lives. So let’s focus on that more and more.

Just to summarise all of that for you. Remember what is important to you? How can you prioritise that more? Know the importance of rest and taking breaks, remembering that actually maybe a four day week or a six hour work day, or just making sure that you’re not answering emails outside of work hours, making sure that you actually booked that holiday off, is going to help you to be more productive. It’s going to improve your relationships. Also, help your brain to be more creative and better at making decisions.

Natural rhythms

And my final point, think about how your body is in terms of your natural rhythms and cycles. So are you somebody that is a real morning person and you know that your mornings are more productive, more energetic or maybe you’re a night owl and actually, you work best at 10pm at night when everyone else is going to bed? Can you work around this? Can you find a way to work at the times that are most productive for you? And then choose to rest and take time off and take care of yourself at those times when you’re not so productive.

This also applies to the menstrual cycle. If you notice that on certain days of the month, you might try to sit down at your desk and work and put pressure on yourself and end up procrastinating. I know that I can do this on days, like 21 to 24. Actually no work gets done and it’s not worthbeating myself up about that. On these days, I manage that and schedule in either less taxing work or take more time off and more breaks.

If you have a hormonal cycle, and you have a period, then your body works in cycles, so it’s really silly to expect us to be as productive and hard working and energetic on every single day of the month because that’s just not how our bodies work. So let’s rethink over-working.

What do you think

Thank you so much for listening. I’d love to know what you think about this. Come on over to my Instagram at Chloe Brotheridge. Let me know what of these ideas you’re going to be carrying forwards. Please do share any other thoughts or ideas you have a next you have any tips on how to break free of the tyranny of productivity, and over-working.

Maybe you have an example you’d like to share. Come and find me on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you so much for listening and I’ll catch you later You have been listening to the Calmer You podcast with me Chloe Brotheridge. Don’t forget you can download the freebies for anxiety and confidence at my website calmer-you.com. You can also find out about my one on one sessions.

Please do subscribe to this podcast in the apple podcast. And if you have enjoyed it or found it helpful, please leave me a review. It makes a massive difference to helping the podcast get discovered by other people and come on over and find me on Instagram. I’m hanging out there every day you can find me at Chloe Brotheridge let me know what you thought of this episode and please share it with anyone who might need to hear this today.

I’m sending you lots of love and I hope you have a brilliant week ahead

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