It’s important to work hard. Being lazy is a sure-fire way to get lower performance evaluations and put you on your manager’s watch list.
The problem, however, is that there will always be more work to do. You’ll never be completely caught up. If you were, your organization is doing something wrong. That would signal that they are wasting resources and haven’t plugged you into enough initiatives.
So how much should you work? On the one hand, working non-stop and plowing through endless requests is good job security. But on the other hand, you’ll inevitably burnout if you attempt to keep up with unrealistic demands.
Herein lies the paradox of work. Working hard equates to job security, but keeping it reasonable equates to well-being. Everyone’s context is different, and it’s up to you to proactively and strategically decide what makes sense.
Early-career employees, employees in role transitions, employees working through tough organizational circumstances, etc., might understandably have spikes in work hours. The key here is to set boundaries. Be in tune with organizational culture, have candid conversations with your manager, and maintain a balance over the long term.