Working more hours obviously means you are more productive, right? Not exactly. Instead, it could just lead you to burning out. Ideally, you want to find a balance and not be a workaholic. Yet, it’s a major problem for many people. However, all those extra hours hurt your productivity more than help it.
Are You a Workaholic?
So, how much is too much? First, if you’re constantly working late every day (and not due to procrastination), you might be a workaholic. Or, your job is too demanding. Many employees, especially those working from home, feel the need to constantly check emails, stay in team collaboration tools, and take on extra work to ensure their bosses and/or clients are pleased.
Believe it or not, workaholism is an actual condition. Even if you’re not quite there yet, you could miss out on your personal life completely over a job that’s just wearing you down. The worse you feel, the harder it is to stay productive. And, when you do finally burn out, you could lose everything you’ve worked for in your career.
Some of the biggest signs include:
- Anxiety over not working
- Work is your top priority
- Only work will make you happy
- No real personal life
- Constant exhaustion and insomnia
- Noticeable physical and mental health issues
If you’re not sure where you stand, take Healthline’s quiz. It’s not perfect, but it helps you see the signs of a workaholism.
As a side note, working a lot because you love what you do doesn’t necessarily make you a workaholic. Just make sure you’re actually happy, getting enough sleep, and making time for friends, family, and hobbies.
1. Set Boundaries
Do you check your phone 24/7, afraid of missing an email or text? If you don’t rest and de-stress, you actually will end up missing something important. Your mind needs breaks. You need sleep and non-work activities.
The first step in learning how to not be a workaholic is to set boundaries. If you have an incredibly demanding employer, it may be time to discuss boundaries with them or start searching for a new job. With boundaries, you work a set schedule, leaving time for a personal life. During “you” time, work doesn’t exist. Then, during “work” time, you feel more refreshed and focused.
Use planner apps to schedule your time. These often have notifications to help you better manage your time and know when your workday is done.
2. Find Self-Worth Outside of Work
Many workaholics love the thrill of accomplishing tasks. Each task is like a reward. You even feel a temporary high. But, like any addiction, it’s not healthy. Yes, it may seem ultra-productive, but odds are, you’re struggling with priorities and time management.
When your worth and feelings of achievement are tied solely to work tasks, you’ll prioritize the easiest tasks so you feel better about yourself with each accomplishment. Harder or more time-consuming tasks are pushed back until you have to rush at the last minute to complete them. Of course, that hurts the quality of the tasks and leaves you feeling exhausted, which kills your productivity for subsequent tasks.
Find at least one thing outside of work that makes you feel good about yourself. Pick up a hobby, have dinner with your family, spend time with a friend, exercise, or anything else you may enjoy beyond work.
Doing this helps shift your brain’s reward system, helping you start to re-prioritize your tasks to stay on track and better manage your time each day. Try the Eisenhower Box to better manage priorities and time.
3. Schedule Time to Relax
In order to not be a workaholic, you have to make time to relax. It’s hard to let go of work. In fact, you might spend your relaxation time thinking about all the work you need to do. Instead, treat relaxation time as a work task. For instance, list meditation as a to-do.
Taking even twenty to thirty minutes a day to relax is a great start. Pay close attention to how much better you feel over time. Then, make even more time to savor a great lunch and dinner, do some physical activity, meditate, do something with friends and family, and get a good night’s rest.
4. Seek Professional Help
In many cases, you’re able to avoid being a workaholic simply by recognizing the problem and taking simple steps to scale back how much you work. But, if it’s affecting your health, you’re struggling to maintain any relationships (friends, family, romantic), and life seems to have no meaning outside of work, it may be time to seek professional help or at least talk with a trusted friend.
Workaholism isn’t productivity or passion. Instead, you work more and harder to accomplish less. Give yourself a break and create balance in your life. Your career and productivity will thank you.
If you’re struggling with productivity without overworking yourself, consider reading “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” for actionable advice to change how you work today.