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Are You a Workaholic?

If you have more conference calls a day than sex in a week, you might be a workaholic.

Photo by Tim Gouw

At least, that was the collective answer we got after polling the floor of an undisclosed finance company. Some other gems also included, "if you dream of work more than your childhood", "if you eat in less time than you shit", and of course "if you curse more than you say please and thank you" than you damn sure are a workaholic. If anyone knows what it's like to give up your life for your job, it's these people, so it's safe to say all of these things probably make you a workaholic. But really, if you spend more time answering emails than sleeping, you ARE a workaholic.

In an age where we are constantly connected to technology, it's hard to remove ourselves from work. You can literally take your work everywhere! Maybe you're drained, maybe your spouse is demanding more of your time, or maybe you just hate your job; whatever the reason, there may come a point when you take the necessary steps to break workaholic habits. Often times this can be tough. Habits are hard to break, especially when they’re viewed as virtues in many circles. Being a workaholic can put a strain on your relationships, damage your health and even blemish your career by causing you to burn out. The first step for recovering workaholics is to discuss a more manageable schedule with your supervisor. Don’t mention that you want to shift your priorities away from work, as your boss may view that point as a sign of weakness. Instead, explain that you need a bit more time to address matters in your personal life. A focused, energized employee is a good employee, so be your best self by taking some time for yourself.

Identifying Your Passions In Life

Photo by Caleb Jones

Being a workaholic doesn't mean that you necessarily hate your job. You may actually love your job, hence why you spend so much time invested in it. But it is important to love life more than work. Work to live, not live to work. This subtle difference could save you time, energy, and help you keep that job you love so much. Successful celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates, some of the most famous workaholics in the world, have even boasted about the benefits of relaxation and how lack of such can actually hard your long term goals. Through the years, you may have lost touch with your true aspirations. Take the time to reevaluate what matters most to you, both personally and professionally. Is this the type of work that you want to be doing for the rest of your days? Do your objectives include a home, a family and other specific experiences? Base your decisions on the kind of life you want years from now, not the nearest deadline. There’s nothing wrong with achievements or being proud of them, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that motivates you.

Your work day should end the moment you step out of the office, so avoid spending the evening in front of your laptop and ranting about your job to your friends and family. Letting go is the hardest part for most workaholics. First, take it in small steps. If you have a hard time relaxing, you don’t need to take a whole week or a month off, just try it in 10 or 15 minute increments at first. You’ll get used to it, and eventually be able to do it for much longer. Not only will you thank yourself later, but your friends and family will too. Try to not answer business calls during dinner, set boundaries for yourself. While occasional work-related calls are unavoidable, they should not become a habit. Seriously, put the iPhone down! This can also strengthen a relationship with someone who you might have been neglecting. Rekindle some of your old friendships and let the people you’ve disappointed in the past know that things are going to be different. If you’re in a committed relationship or you have a family, make sure to spend at least 30 minutes of quality time with your loved ones every day.

Free Time and an Active Lifestyle

Photo by Lena Bell

Just because you aren't going to do work at home, don’t just watch television and go to sleep every evening after work. Instead, fill your free time with fun activities, preferably ones that get you out of the house. Yoga and other forms of physical activity are a great way to relieve stress while benefiting your health. It helps to make your hobbies part of the office small talk because this will remind your bosses that you now have personal matters to attend to, and hopefully they will keep this in mind when they schedule your workload. Workaholics need to schedule their free time just as they would any workday, and they need to be sure to stick to the plan. Make it a matter of pride that you always respect your social engagements. Once you’re used to the practice of scheduling your social time, you can take advantage of your compulsive nature to improve your personal life by calling your friends on a regular basis and making plans you’ll later feel obligated to honor.

It is also a good idea to combine fitness with your free time that is separate from your hobbies. You’re probably in need of a good workout if you’ve spent the last few years putting in five hours of overtime every day. After all, office ergonomics can only take you so far. Besides, physical activity can help improve your self-image, and you need something other than your job to boost your self-esteem. Try taking up a group sport so that you can interact with others and create a new circle of friends that will empower you in a healthier way.

Are Workaholics Beneficial in the Workplace?

Photo by Crew

Contrary to popular belief, workaholics aren’t always appreciated by their employers because they have a tendency to micromanage every undertaking and work too hard for too little results. It’s imperative that you learn to let things go. Stop confusing the company’s quality standards with your own. Sometimes a project is good enough even though it’s far from perfect. Once you can separate yourself from that, you need to start to separate yourself from coworkers. As a workaholic, you may have become indispensable in the office by taking on too many tasks and refusing to share your expertise, which makes it impossible to fully invest in a personal life since coworkers are likely to call whenever there is a problem. Try lightening your load and train a few colleagues to perform your duties while you’re away. That way, when you clock out, you can truly disconnect from your job.

When beginning your journey to becoming a recovering workaholic, it's important to stop thinking that hard work is the only virtuous way. Relaxing, and even sometimes being lazy, can be just as important as working hard. Go ahead and give yourself the permission. Without downtime, we’ll eventually burn out, ruining our health and our relationships. Make relaxing as much of a priority as working, because it is. Balance is key. Finding happiness in and out of work will help you lead a more fulfilling life. Work hard, play hard. Don't punish yourself too much if you are a workaholic and these steps seem near to impossible; you've already taken the first step by reading this article. All that's left to do now is breathe and begin....

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