Woman Riding Scooter In Office

Care less to be better at your work

Disconnect, detach and let go to regain perspective

Written by Professor Gary Martin FAIM
3 minute read
Woman Riding Scooter In Office

It may seem unthinkable, but a growing number of people have resolved to care less about their work in 2022.

For as long as most of us can remember, we have tried to squeeze our personal lives around our work schedule.

We blur our working and personal lives by putting in extra hours, refusing to take holidays, taking on extra shifts, answering emails and phone calls after hours and playing catch-up with paperwork on weekends. 

When the pandemic hit, this work-life imbalance got dramatically worse – work-life boundaries were shattered. 

Almost two years later, the pandemic has given rise to a new breed of worker – a variety for which work is not part of their life but is their life.

Sitting down at their computers at the beginning of the pandemic, this new breed somehow managed to get stuck in this work position ever since.

They remain chained to their workstation every waking moment, dream about work issues in their sleep and wake up thinking about their jobs.

If you are worried that you may be part of this new breed, look out for the tell-tale signs.

You will know you have morphed into this new type of worker if you feel anxious when you try to stop working to relax, wake up in the middle of the night to check work emails or become highly distressed when colleagues give you constructive but hard-to-take feedback.

If you find talking about any topic other than work painful, are easily irritated by conversations with people who do not value work the way you do or feel lonely despite being surrounded by others, there is a very good chance you have crossed to the dark side of work.

Perhaps worse, if you have sustained damage to your personal relationships because of your obsession with work, prefer work over leisure activities of any sort and your identity is exclusively linked to your job title, then you have almost certainly become one of the new class of workers.

Disturbingly, members of this growing class put work above everything else including health, family and friends. They allow their work to consume personal ambitions and lifestyle.

Ironically, their arrival in the workplace comes at a time when the pandemic has given many people pause for thought about the things that matter most to them and where work fits into their lives.

After almost two years of hard slog, some of the new breed are beginning to realise that caring too much about work is detrimental to their physical, emotional and mental wellness.

Having vowed to regain some perspective and take back their lives, they have resolved to care less about their work.

Before you jump to the hasty conclusion that our workplaces are about to be overrun by a group of liberated workers, we all need to understand that caring less is not the same as not caring at all.

Caring less is about investing care where it is most needed.

When we care less about work we focus on priorities and let go of the pressure associated with some of the meaningless tasks we perform in doing our jobs.

Caring less also requires us to rebalance care across our personal and professional relationships so that our work is not the only thing that defines us.

To care less we must disconnect and detach from our work on a daily basis, protect our time off, avoid getting bogged down by the stuff that really does not matter and worry less about things outside of our control.

While resolving to care less is admirable, it is almost impossible to decide one day that you are going to care less – and action it effortlessly from the next day.

The ability to care less about work requires time, consistent effort and support from those around us.

The effort will be worthwhile. Those who learn to care less about their work will end up caring more about themselves and that will lead to them being better at their job – and not worse.