How taking work home could sabotage your career instead of boosting it

A woman working at a desk at home
A woman working at a desk at home

It's no surprise that millennials enjoy working from home, and often many of who don't work from home tend to take work home with them after hours. According to, our culture is one that is obsessed with work and there is pressure to extend the day past a 40-hour-work week.

In an article for, Clare Lampen writes that women were markedly more likely than men to entertain work-related tasks — completing assignments, checking emails, taking calls — at home. She explains that women do this because they "may need to work more jobs to make the same amount as men, or feel they need to put in the extra hours to make themselves seen and get ahead." 

While taking your work home may seem like a good way to meet all your deadlines and score brownie points for being efficient (and self-sacrificing), it might have negative effects that you didn't realise. Not only can you jeopardise your mental and physical health by never taking a break from your work, you also end up not being as fulfilled by your sacrifice as you think you would (because, if we're being honest, no one is going to pay or applaud you for answering work emails under the dinner table on your date). 

READ MORE7 simple productivity hacks to help you get stuff done 

Numerous studies have been done to show the negative effects of working outside your allocated and agreed hours, and one of them found that 'off-work' emailing negatively impacts employees' emotional states. If you think that it's not such a big deal, a law was introduced in France that gave employees the 'right to disconnect' and prohibit clients from emailing them after work hours. The same was done in New York

It's important to understand that your wellbeing is as beneficial to the company and to your work as much as it is important for you to get your work done. If you haven't been able to separate your personal life from your work life, it's time you realise that you need to balance both in a healthy way. 

READ MOREWhat are "slashers"- and how are they earning up to R200k extra a year? 

These are some of the downsides of working at home after work hours:

You do more than required and aren't adequately compensated. It's hard to get paid overtime when no one has asked or expected you to take your work home. What you do on your own time - and it is your own time - is not accounted for when your payslip comes through. This can lead to resentment.

You jeopardise your mental and physical health. When you're at work, your faced with a lot of factors that contribute to things like stress, anxiety and depression. If you already find it difficult to manage your stress at work, then take it home with you, it will not only cause mental health problems, but also physical health issues such as sleep disturbances, headaches, an upset stomach, raised blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. 

You risk lowering your self-esteem and impacting your professional life. When you take work home and don't get the recognition you want from your employer or co-workers for going the extra kilometre, you feel like you need to do much more to be seen and acknowledged. This is working backwards, as the added stress of trying to get the recognition you crave might result in poor performance. According to, mental health issues affect you as an employee as you may end up needing days off to rest and treat health complications. 

READ MORE: How to survive the mid-afternoon slump

There are a number of things for you to do to ensure that you make use of your appointed work hours to get things done and still have time to enjoy the hobbies you like after work hours. Here are some that you should try:

Ask for help when you need it. Instead of trying to be superwoman all the time, request help when you need it in order to make your workday more productive. Avoid taking on more than you handle and remember that it is okay to say no to certain things. Instead of taking on too much, rather say "I've got too much to do at the moment, could we rather...?" and then offer an alternative. Delegate smaller tasks to someone who can help you where possible, and focus on the things that you can do.

Manage your time more effectively. Procrastination and poor time management are two of the things that might make you feel like your day wasn't as productive as you wanted it to be. Set a time for all your tasks and complete them according to a timetable or to-do list, without any distractions. According to, multitasking is not a very good superpower; so you should rather "make a habit of committing to a single task before moving on to your next project."

Let go when you need to. If you have a habit of agreeing to plans and then cancelling because you have work to do at home, now is a good time to stop. Allow yourself to take a well-deserved break when you need to, whether it's going out with friends or catching up on your favourite series on Netflix.

Taking breaks from work is just as important as showing up for work, so be sure to switch off your work phone when you leave the office. 

Watch below: No more after work emails in France

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