We hear throughout childhood into adult years that hard work pays off. While this is true, sometimes we take on too many obligations and start developing an unhealthy obsession with work. It reaches the point where something as common as work starts having a negative impact on the rest of our life.
But, how can you know if you’ve crossed the line from working hard into workaholism? There are some key differences. While hard workers put in long hours, they still make time to be with their families and enjoy themselves.
Workaholics, on the other hand, value work over all other activities and devote all their time and energy to work. Even though they are ambitious and intense, they can be very insecure. There is no room for relaxation in their schedules, which negatively impacts health, relationships and, ironically, quality of work.
If any of the above traits and behaviors hit home, you should start rethinking your lifestyle. You don’t want to have your mental and physical health deteriorating because you’ve become a workaholic. With a few adjustments, you can continue working hard without going overboard.
Don’t let yourself fall into the workaholic trap of giving up your personal life to work. Create a schedule that clearly separates working hours from the rest of your life and stick to it. Don’t work late or spend your free time checking work email and don’t bring work problems home.
Spend your free time with the people you love and build your personal relationships. Look for a few things outside of work that make you happy and focus on them.
Many workaholics dive into their work to get away from their personal problems. It’s important to realize that your problems will follow you wherever you run from them.
Don’t take on additional tasks because you’d feel bad about declining anything. Set clear expectations on what you can and can’t do on projects. Understand what your expertise is so you can focus on that and delegate work that doesn’t fit your skillset. When you’re overwhelmed, your performance diminishes. Saying “no” and asking for help can actually increase your productivity.
Remember to take breaks no matter how important your current project is. Take at least five minutes to go for a walk, grab a cup of coffee or do something relaxing each one to two hours of work. You’ll be more efficient than if you try to push through and work nonstop.
Overworking can cause health issues, so it’s important to take care of yourself. Make healthy food choices that boost your energy, and don’t skip meals because you’re working. If necessary, create a meal schedule for yourself.
Stress is a huge issue which can lead to burnout and learning how to handle it is extremely important. Find a relaxing activity that you can do for at least 15 minutes per day. You can choose from high-intensity activities like running or cycling and calming exercises, such as yoga or meditation. Or you can simply learn how to breathe in a way that reduces stress, whatever is more up your alley.
Lack of sleep will reduce your productivity and increase your stress. Aim for six to eight hours per night, and don’t stay up until the middle of the night to work.
Realize that work isn’t everything, and make sure work achievements aren’t your only motivation in life. Being with people you love and doing things that are exciting can be just as rewarding.
During your leisure time, block out negative thoughts and thoughts of work. Focus on doing things that bring you joy. It will take time to find enjoyable things that don't involve work and maybe you will fall off the wagon every once in a while. The key is not to let that stress you out further. Remember what you liked doing before you focused on your career and reintroduce it to your life. Start with fifteen minutes a day; it will be enough to remind you how good it is to relax.
Your body and mind need to rest every day and week. Without this downtime, things are bound to go wrong at some point. Don’t look at relaxing and being lazy as bad – they are necessary for your overall health and happiness.
A strong work ethic is an excellent attribute, but it’s not all about working hard. You also need to work smart, and that means you must avoid overworking. Maintain your work-life balance so you can lead a fulfilling life that doesn’t revolve around your career.