Hard work pays off. But overly long hours can throw off your delicate work-life balance and be harmful to your health and well-being.
Being a hard worker is not the same as being a workaholic. Workaholism, like all addictions, becomes a recurring obsession as you practice repeated destructive behavior, despite knowing how harmful it is. Hard workers put in long hours, but still give back to their loved ones and enjoy outside activities in their free time. Many workaholics, by contrast, would like to stop their habit of placing work above all else, but are powerless to do so.
How to Avoid Workaholism
Time management, delegation, boundaries and efficiency all come into play as you master the art of working hard without suffering the symptoms of workaholism.
- Master time management. Time is one of your most valuable and important resources. Decline nonessential meetings. Dedicate slots on your calendar to accomplishing one task, starting with those you may dread the most, such as finishing that tedious-yet-required sales report. Finish one item before starting another. Allow for periodic breaks, but set clear end goals to keep your productivity in check.
- Know which tasks require your expertise and which do not. Understand your team’s strengths and make good use of them. Be honest about what you can and cannot take on. If you feel overwhelmed, then you won’t be able to do your best work. Be willing to say “no” sometimes, and ask for help.
- Set and honor boundaries. Remember why you’re working in the first place: to support yourself and your family, and to feel fulfilled. Create clear boundaries. This may mean leaving the office by 6 p.m. every night, no matter what, or blocking out time during your lunch break to work out at the gym. Be strict with yourself about not working during hours you have set aside for leisure time.
- Be efficient in the work you do. If you can be highly productive in a relatively short time, you can use this achievement to calm your workaholic conscience and relax. If you stop being a workaholic, it doesn’t mean you can’t work efficiently and aim for excellent quality. But, you can set sensible limits on your work so it doesn’t eat up the rest of your life.