Being overworked can be fatal. And that’s the sad truth on what happened with  Indonesian copywriter, Mita Diran. In the last tweet that Mita Diran posted last December 14 on her Twitter handle @mitdoq, she tweeted Mita Diranthat she’s been working 30 hours and still going strong. Then news came out. According to her father Yani Syahrial, Mita went into coma after working continuously for 3 days.  Eventually, she died on December 15 after suffering heart failure as a result of a combination of long hours and drinking too much Kratingdaeng, a strong energy drink.

Why is Mita’s story so striking to me?

I’ve always believed that just like Mita, freelancers are one of the most hard working people you’ll ever know. And if you’ll asked us what to do if a deadline is at hand, I’m sure that majority of us will say that we’ll work on it overtime. We will do it because we want to please our clients and we want to make sure that we get a good feedback or rating. That’s how much feedback matters. And that’s a common mentality. It so strikes me because many times in the past, I’ve seen myself getting 3-4 hours sleep and sometimes even lesser. And I’m certain that someone, somewhere, this is also happening and it needs to stop.

Mita’s story is a reminder of what many of us are missing in terms of doing our work. Jack Collis book entitled “Work Smarter Not Harder” sums it up. It’s good to be hard working, to be diligent but we also need to think of ways and means to make things better, easier, more efficient and more effective. Putting also into consideration our health and well being.

Tips on Overwork Avoidance

1. Delegate – You can only do so much in a day. If you have more work that you can handle now, delegate. Anthea Turner says it nicely, “The first rule of management is delegation. Don’t try and do everything yourself because you can’t.”

2. Say NO – If you know that you can no longer squeeze another project into your schedule and you still don’t want to delegate you better learn to start saying NO. Don’t keep on accepting new business if you’re going to juggle it on your own because eventually, you’ll drop one that may ruin your entire business. Mita-Diran-path

3. No Weekend Work – I always make sure that my clients know that I don’t work on Sundays. And if you’ll say it, right on, more often than not, they’ll respect that you also need some time off.

4. Work ahead – Sometimes being overworked is not because of a client being too harsh on you. Sometimes it’s us being too lazy to do things when we have ample time then rushing to finish it when the clock starts ticking away. In short, we procrastinate. If you don’t want to be overworked, work ahead of schedule.

Have you been working so hard lately to the point of losing sleep? Have you been drinking energy drinks just to keep you awake? Have you been skipping meals because of a project you are working on? If you do, think again. Will these all be worth it if you go into coma, or worse, die. For 2014, let’s start to work smarter, not harder.

Life is too short.  Enjoy some time with your family this week and get a vacation.

My condolences are with the family of Mita Diran.

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