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ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.


Retaining the old African values of responsibility, sharing and truth may be the best way we can help our children navigate the new world.

If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked how I manage to fit in all the different things that I do, well…, I would probably be rich enough not to have to fit in all the things that I do.

But it’s becoming ever clearer to me that being a ‘superwoman’ isn’t actually a badge of honour. Much as we – and women in particular fall prey to this – start to believe the myth that we can have and do it all at the same time, the badge should probably read something quite different. Because the reality is that too many of us are doing far too much, and it’s not healthy.

Rather than being something to beat our chests about, our overly-busy lives – some of it undoubtedly self-imposed if we are brutally honest – is more an admission of our failure to prioritise what we do. Instead of focusing on what matters, too often we try to give equal weight to things that, in the final analysis, are probably of little consequence.

TGI Friday…Or Not

Being both a writer and a self-employed business person, it’s very easy for the boundaries between ‘work’ and leisure to become blurred. And, to judge from some of the studies I’ve come across, I’m far from being the only one who welcomes the end of the week, but then carries on working right through the weekend as if nothing had changed.

A poll by employee benefits firm MetLife revealed that weekend working is commonplace and that almost half of the 1000 UK employees surveyed (47%) who work Monday to Friday, put in extra hours at the weekend. The research suggested that work has disturbed weekends for 9.7 million people in the past 12 months. While the average number of weekends people worked extra hours is just eight, 14% of poll respondents said they had to work on more than 21 weekends in the year to keep up with their workload.

Trying to be Superwoman (or Superman) usually means that we are not being mindful of our choices in how we spend our time. If that is the case, the only real question we must ask ourselves is ‘In the final scheme of things, what will really matter?’

For some people – 52% of women and 42% of men – onerous workloads are the problem. For others – 23% - it’s due to having to pitch in when there is a work-related crisis at the weekend. Some unfortunate employees – 13% - simply have employers who want them to be on call at all times, making it impossible for them to really switch off and relax.

Predictably, the results also revealed that women find it harder to switch off at weekends, with 38% of female workers admitting that this is an issue, compared with 32% of men.

According to Tom Gaynor, Employee Benefits Director of MetLife UK, “Disrupted and sometimes ruined weekends are becoming a disturbing feature of British life that has deep societal implications.” So why are we turning into a nation of people who are struggling to relax?

Need vs. Want

While the obvious answer may be ‘money’, studies show that this doesn’t always account for why we go beyond the extra mile. For some people, overworking is a habit that they find hard to break. As they spend less and less time on leisure activities, they lose the desire to engage in them and without any hobbies or outside interests, work becomes the only activity left to pursue.

Even for those who believe it’s about money, it still begs the question of whether we need everything we say we are working for. What do we actually need versus what do we believe we want and financially, when is enough...well, enough? Because it seems that we don’t know when to stop and that some of us still want to keep working excessively, even when our financial needs have been satisfied.

A fascinating study by Christopher K. Hsee, Jiao Zhang, Cindy F. Cai, and Shirley Zhang of Booth School of Business, University of Chicago; School of Business, University of Miami; and Antai College, Shanghai Jiao Tong University researched the question of ‘overearning’ - why do we work so hard if our “needs” are met. The authors asked: if technological gains now allow us to produce more with less, why are we still working so many hours?

The authors studied the question of whether people overearn—forgo leisure to work and earn beyond their needs. Among their conclusions was the disturbing finding that individuals overearn, even at the cost of happiness, and that overearning is a result of mindless accumulation—a tendency to work and earn until feeling tired, rather than until having enough.

The study also concludes that “Although working is a joy for some, it is a toil for many others. Finally, overearning is not costless. Overearners forgo the pleasure of leisure and endure the pain of extra work. Overearners may also lower the wellbeing of people around them by imposing more pressure on peers (“Joe worked last weekend and earned a lot, so I should work this weekend, too”) and giving less time to loved ones (“My parents are so busy they rarely play with me”). Overearning is also wasteful: because earning usually requires resources, overearning consumes resources that could otherwise be conserved.”

Just (Don’t) Do It!

Trying to be Superwoman (or Superman) usually means that we are not being mindful of our choices in how we spend our time. If that is the case, the only real question we must ask ourselves is ‘In the final scheme of things, what will really matter?’

Daughter One recently remarked that I’m obsessed with death (possibly because I’m frequently warning her that even if I’m hit by a bus, she needs to study and pass her exams). I will admit to that particular obsession because recent losses have demonstrated yet again that our time is short and not something we should waste on things that we just don’t want to do, or certainly don’t want to do any longer.

Whether it’s finally starting that exercise routine, visiting that country or city you always wondered about, or reading that book gathering dust on your bedside table, what are you waiting for?

So, if like me you are just plain tired of being any kind of superhero, here are some questions to ask yourself: What are you still holding onto that you can now let go? What are some of the projects you swore you would undertake but which, frankly, no longer interest you – or at least to the same level as before? What are some of the time wasters that you’ve allowed to take over as routine and which, if you are honest, you now need to eliminate?

Let me paraphrase a morbid joke: Question: ‘What do you call someone who works too hard?’ Answer: ‘An organ donor’. We need to be responsible enough to sometimes be irresponsible. Instead of overworking, let’s favour moderation for, as the Jamaican proverb reminds us, ‘When belly full, jaw must stop’.

The traditional holiday months are upon us and it’s a good time for all of us to rip off our super cloaks, down tools, and declare that enough is enough.


Author of the novels ‘From Pasta to Pigfoot’ and ‘From Pasta to Pigfoot: Second Helpings’ and the books I Want to Work in… Africa: How to Move Your Career to the World’s Most Exciting Continent’ and ‘Everyday Heroes – Learning from the Careers of Successful Black Professionals’

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