Working at home is probably the best thing that came out of the shelter-at-home rules. With your workspace a few steps from your bed, you can jump right out of sleep and into work mode in a matter of minutes. And you expect more work done because you’ve eliminated the non-essentials: backing out of the parking lot, driving to work in the morning rush hour, waiting for the elevator, waiting for your computer to start, reading hundreds of non-urgent emails—stuff like that!
Yes, you expect more work to be done. Unfortunately, this is now your problem. Because of the very thin line between your personal space and your workspace and your expectation of higher accomplishment, you have become (it’s the dreaded word!) a workaholic.
What Is a Workaholic?
According to Science Daily, “a workaholic is a person who is addicted to work. The term generally implies that the person enjoys their work; it can also imply that they feel compelled to do it.”
Based on this, a workaholic is someone who either loves work or loves the feeling of working without necessarily getting much done. The site is quick to mention that you should not equate workaholism with working hard. When you need to finish something on a tight deadline, by all means, work furiously. But it shouldn’t be a habit.
How Do You Know That You Have Become a Workaholic?
Look at this list of things typical workaholics do (in a work-at-home setting). Did you get a “whoa!” moment?
- Logs in early, and logs out late — Workaholics make all kinds of excuses to be the first one in the office and the last one out. They say it’s quieter without everyone else, and it helps to prepare for the next day’s workload. But they do the same at home, where they’re alone and undisturbed and have a corkboard full of project notes all planned and ticked.
- Loves working lunches — Workaholics eat where they work and work where they eat. In the office, they rarely go out for lunch. When working at home, the environment is less stiff, encouraging them to continue this overlap of work hours and break hours.
- Thinks of work outside of work — Do you have this urge to open your Slack app on the phone in the middle of watching a Netflix movie late at night? So do workaholics. Aha!
- Continues to work even when sick — Workaholics have FOMO when they’re sick. Every millisecond of being away from their desk is a missed opportunity to receive the heaviest Excel file for processing. So, they camp out by their laptop surrounded by tissues, a thermometer, and aspirin tablets.
- Makes work an excuse for skipping meetups — Have you not seen your friends in the past six months because you always say “I need to work” when they invite you to dinner or drinks? If you continue skipping even your Zoom dates because “I need to work,” dude, you’re in serious trouble.
- Doesn’t have real hobbies and doesn’t take vacations — Workaholics spend probably 50% of their vacation vacationing. Most of the time, they’re working, just in another place. When asked what they do for fun, they can’t give an answer that doesn’t involve work-related activities.
- Gets stressed when not working, and then burns out — They hate holidays because they’re not required to do anything. And then they hate the day after the holidays because they did too much during the holiday anyway, and they’re tired.
What Can You Do to Ease Out of Workaholism?
- Admit you’re a workaholic — Unless you recognize the problem, you will not come up with a solution. Get professional advice and treatment if you can’t deal with it on your own.
- Rest and recharge — Your health problems and feeling of burnout are due to your lack of rest and sleeplessness. Make bedtime appealing by getting comfortable pillows and mattresses from your favorite store, lighting scented candles, and playing soothing music to stimulate sleep. Meditation also helps.
- Create boundaries — Commit to a work schedule and stick to it. Respect breaks and stop at the end of your shift. Make sure weekends are off-limits to work unless there’s an urgent matter. But then, “urgent” can be subjective, too.
- Manage your time — Poor time management may be the reason for your long work hours. Instead of multitasking, focus on one project at a time. You may follow the Pomodoro Technique of time management, which alternates 20-minute work periods and 10-minute breaks in multiple cycles to ensure consistent productivity.
- Learn to say no — It can be tempting to please your boss when he asks if you’re free to join him for a client meeting at 7:00 AM on a Sunday. You don’t usually wake up until 10:00 on a Sunday. Say so; you’re not paid during the weekend.
- When on vacation, disconnect — Learn to work hard and play hard—no gray areas. Reward yourself for having worked hard most of the year. Also, take this time to reconnect with your family members and truly learn what’s up in their life. Start or learn a new hobby with them.
Life is short. But if you get addicted to working, it will be shorter. So, shut down your computer and live.