Do you work more than 55 hours a week in your small business?

If I’m being honest, my answer is “yes”— which may not be the best news.

The British medical journal, “The Lancet,” recently published a study that uncovered many of health issues related to being a workaholic — including alcoholism, depression, type-2 diabetes, or stroke. And there have been many studies over the last decade or so that have found similar associations between overwork and bad health.

It’s important to make one thing very clear: these health issues are associated with long hours of work.

In other words, where overwork is found, there is a good chance these health problems will be found as well. I make this point because there is a difference between association and causation.

However, since so many bad outcomes are associated with working too many hours, we can consider “hours worked” as sort of a “canary in the coal mine.”

Miners used to take canaries down into the mines with them because the birds were more sensitive to hazardous gases. If the canary died, the miners knew they had to take action.

In the same way, if you’re logging upwards of 55 hours a week in your small business, your canary is starting to stagger around its cage. You need to take a step back and figure out what’s wrong in your approach to managing your small business.

Start asking yourself questions like these:

  • Is my business model bound to fail?
  • Am I too reluctant to delegate?
  • Am I avoiding other aspects of my life by filling the hours with work?
  • Is fear my primary motivator?

Perhaps I haven’t listed the exact question that applies to your situation. If so, the point is to find out why you are working so many hours and then do something about it.

Further, if you’re logging this many hours, not only are your harming your health, you aren’t doing your small business any favor either.

A Stanford University study showed that productivity starts to fall off after 50 hours of work.

Once you get that that point, you’ll be working more and more and achieving less and less. That’s not the best way to get the edge you need to be successful in your small business.

By the way, cognitive skills decrease as well, so when you’re overworked you’re more likely to make bad decisions.

Have I scared you, or at least warned you sufficiently?

You should take the concept of work-life balance seriously, for the good of both your work and your life.

Check out the series of guest posts work-life balance expert Jeff Davidson has written for my website.

While you build your small business up, don’t let your small business run you down.

Do you have any advice for business owners struggling to find a better work-life balance? I’d love to hear from you. Post your tips in the comments below.