Remember that great thing called a life that you used to have? Where you enjoyed family time at the aquarium, went shopping, hosted dinner parties, and rooted for your favorite sports team? A time when your day wasn’t interrupted by the constant buzz of your cell phone, back before you had it surgically implanted to your hip?
If your idea of having a life is working 24/7 while allowing infrequent breaks to eat or shower, you just might be a workaholic.
But don’t panic; there’s hope. We’re going to take a look at what to be on the look-out for and how you can start breaking the workaholic cycle.
1 – You’re Always the First to Arrive and the Last to Leave Work
Having a great work ethic and being ambitious is nothing to be ashamed of, and can position you for a really successful career.
But if you’re literally not seeing the light of day because you’re constantly arriving at the office before the sun rises and leaving at dusk, you’re going to eventually burn yourself out. And according to studies on productivity, extra hours don’t often equal more productive hours.
What to Do:
Moderate your hours. Arriving a little early to work can allow you time to check your emails, settle in, etc., but don’t overdo it. You’re not proving anything to anyone by showing up when the rest of the world is still sleeping.
At the end of the day, do your best to finish what you set out to do that day, but don’t beat yourself up over the little things. Distractions are inevitable, and sometimes they mean that you can’t do exactly as much as you were expecting. As long as you are prioritizing your workload and setting realistic timelines for yourself, you’ll stay on top of your work and assignments won’t slip through the cracks.
2- You Have “Sad Desk Lunch” Every Day
Ever notice that you’re the only one eating at your desk while everyone else goes out? If not, that’s an even worse sign that you desperately need to break free from your desk chain!
Even though working non-stop may sound like a good idea in concept, it can actually work against you, causing your productivity to plummet. People are actually more productive when they have “renewal intervals” during the day to turn their brains off and refocus their energy elsewhere.
What to Do:
Take a break! Go for a walk around the block, get some fresh air, grab Starbucks, anything you can do to switch-up your environment and gain new perspective. You’ll return to work happier, more clear-headed, and able to deliver better work.
3- You’re Too Accessible
Are you losing sleep because you’ve been responding to work emails in the middle of the night?
Being overly-accessible to your co-workers and clients can negatively impact your working life. If you want others to respect your personal time, you need to be okay letting an email wait until the morning and the phone go to voicemail when it’s after hours. If you treat everything as though it’s urgent, people will come to expect that you’re always available.
What to Do:
Unplug! Having your cell phone attached to your hip 24/7 and responding to work-related communications any time of the day or night is not healthy. It sends a message to customers that it’s perfectly okay to bombard you with communications at any moment, and that you’ll drop whatever it is you’re doing to respond immediately.
You need to be able to separate work time from personal time by setting realistic boundaries for yourself. Establish a time of day that your work is truly done, meaning that you are no longer accessible. If you’re working for a company, this is generally an established time, but if you’re working for yourself, you’ll need to set your own boundaries.
Remember that you and only you are responsible for own well-being, and it’s important to establish boundaries so that people understand that you won’t always be at their beck and call.
Unless you’re an on-call medical professional, whatever it is can usually wait until tomorrow.
4 – You’re Mind is Constantly on Work – Even When You’re Not There
So you finally got a chance to hit the slopes for some great skiing in Vermont this winter, but all you can think about as you glide down the hill are the mounting emails in your inbox and whether or not your secretary remembered to fax that memo to your client before she left for her trip.
What to Do:
Stay in the moment! Focus on what’s going on around you right now, not on what already happened or might (never) happen.
Are you on the beach? Focus on the waves and the way the sun feels on your skin. Sitting down to a romantic dinner? Focus on the conversation with your partner and on enjoying a good meal. Do your best to be present so you’re not missing out on the things that are happening right in front of you.
5- You’re Stressed When You Have Time Off
Do impending weekends give you anxiety because you know it’s two days outside your comfort zone?
They may seem uncomfortable, but weekends allow you much-needed time off to relax and focus on personal matters so that you can operate as a complete person. So if you’re not using weekends to your benefit, you’re doing it all wrong!
What to do:
Take a vacation! Force yourself to unplug and unwind.
This doesn’t have to mean drop everything and tour Europe for a month, but at the very least, take a weekend excursion to refuel and unwind. You’ll be surprised at how some time away can change your perspective and get you out of your rut.
Remember, you’re only human and you need to take care of yourself to remain healthy and productive. So cut yourself some slack and take advantage of your down-time.
Your emails aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either!