Are you a workaholic? We often wear workaholism as a badge of honor in our culture. People who put in long hours, including evenings and weekends, are often seen as smart, ambitious and entrepreneurial. But workaholism has its downsides. Workaholics tend to take on more work than they can effectively handle and are more disorganized than people who can disconnect from work. Being committed to your job is a good quality, but there is a difference between having a strong work ethic and being a workaholic. Here’s how to tell if you’ve crossed that line.
Members of the generation with a reputation for slacking off and not wanting to pay their dues are actually more likely to be workaholics than other generations. A 2016 study by Project: Time Off found that 43 percent of people who identified themselves as “work martyrs” were Millennials, compared to just 29 percent of overall survey respondents. They were also more likely to forfeit unused vacation days than Gen Xers and Boomers.
In an interview with Harvard Business Review, a Senior Project Director for Project: Time Off theorized that cell phones and the internet are two of the reasons Millennials tend to be workaholics. This is the first generation that entered the workforce with both of those technologies available.
Workaholics tend to be terrible at delegation because they believe that nobody can do a job as well as they can. When they must hand off work to others, they micromanage.
If you believe that you are the only one capable of getting work done, recognize that this is a trust issue. Many of your team members are likely just as capable.
Start by delegating small tasks that can free you up to focus on bigger projects and take a hands-off approach. Don’t concern yourself with how things get done, just that they get done. Once you can see your team efficiently handling the work, you can start trending toward delegating more important projects.
You bring your laptop on vacation. You’re checking email on your phone while having dinner with your family. Even when you’re away from the office, your thoughts are constantly on work. When thoughts of work take over every aspect of your life, your relationships with family and friends suffer and you never get the rest and recharge you need.
Take steps to limit the intrusion of work into your personal life. Don’t bring work home with you and put your phone on Do Not Disturb during family time. Resist the temptation to hop on your computer from home to just do “one little thing.” Before you know it, that five minutes turned into the entire evening.
Your life is out of balance if your work comes at the expense of family, friends and physical health. If others have told you that you need to cut down on work, listen to them.
Well-rounded people cultivate relationships outside of work, and strong relationships are critical to having a long, healthy and happy life. People without strong personal relationships often suffer from depression and premature death.
Pay attention when the important people in your life complain that they never see you anymore. Make more of an effort to say “Yes” to those invitations you’re always turning down. Make room in your life for the people, hobbies and physical activities that you enjoy.
Workaholism, like any addiction, can have serious health consequences. According to WebMD, workaholics experience “significantly higher work-related stress and job burnout rates, anger, depression, anxiety and psychosomatic symptoms such as stomachaches and headaches.”
If your commitment to work is leaving you physically and emotionally wrecked, trying to go cold-turkey on your work addiction may be tough. You don’t need to quit your job. You do, however, need to take steps to find balance in your life. Focus on the important things in life that you can only find once you move away from the keyboard.