Are You a Workaholic?

In the olden days before smartphones and Wi-Fi, it was easy to tell workaholics from normal busy people: workaholics were the ones who never stopped working. Now that many of us are always sort of working, well, the distinction is harder to make.

workaholic 

(Photo Credit: tashmahal/Flickr)

It might be harder to differentiate the hardworking from the folks with a work-life balance problem, but not impossible. Here are a few signs things have gone too far:

1. You never take a lunch break.

Eating at your desk is gross and hinders productivity, but still, many of us do it from time to time. When "time to time" becomes "all the time," you might need to look at your priorities.

2. No one is surprised when you cancel plans.

Your friends and family used to be disappointed when you chose TPS reports over their birthday parties and celebratory dinners. Now, they just pencil you in.

3. You can't delegate.

Workaholics are often Type A personalities -- to the degree that they might honestly believe that no one can do the job as well as they can. Don't make yourself essential personnel. It won't stop you from getting laid off if your company undergoes a downturn, and it'll keep you from being able to have a personal life.

4. You can't remember the last time you just sat and did nothing.

Again, technology is partly to blame here. We have an entire culture built on the idea that no one ever needs to be bored or out of touch. As a result, many of us never spend even a few minutes doing nothing at all. Raise your hand if you smuggled a smartphone to the beach this summer. That's what we thought.

5. Work, work, work -- all you think about is work.

You're at the movies, and you're worried about an email you need to send. You're at a party, and all you can think about is that you'll be too tired to sneak in work tomorrow morning (and it's a weekend). Everything you do and see reminds you of something you should be doing at the office.

So what can you do if you are a workaholic? First and foremost, start by setting some boundaries for yourself. Even if you do work after hours, try to keep it to a set schedule. Take days off. Use your vacation time. Eat lunch while talking to a person instead of looking at a screen. And above all, remember this: true productivity isn't working all the time. It's getting stuff done when you do work. And to do that, you need a little rest.

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