It is generally considered that hard work and good work ethics are good things. However, too much of a good thing can end up having a negative effect on your life. It’s one thing to be punctual and productive, but when you start walking into the office in the early hours when there’s only you and the janitor or letting work consume most of your free time, then you have a problem on your hands.
Many people will jokingly say that they are somewhat of a workaholic, but those who can truly be labeled as one are actually under a lot of constant stress, their relationships suffer and they may even have some underlying psychological issues that force them to try and find an escape in their work. If you exhibit three or more of these signs, you are likely a workaholic and should try to find a healthier balance between work and your private life.
You spend at least an hour longer at the office than anyone else
While everyone else is starting their car or stuck in traffic, you are at your desk checking your email and getting ready for today’s work. At the end of the day, when everyone else has already walked out of the door, you are trying to get another half hour in so you can finish just a few more things. This makes your average workday far longer than anyone else’s, and while it may score you some points with the boss, it will take away some from your private life.
You often spend your free time “finishing up some projects”
When a regular person comes back from work, he or she just wants to kick back and relax, but a workaholic will have a quick shower and grab something to eat while sitting at the computer to “check up on a few things” or “work on that important project”. It’s good to finish a project ahead of schedule if you can, but if you do this constantly, you’ll only get assigned more projects and your boss will get used to you working fast, which means shorter deadlines and more workload. This is a good recipe for getting stressed out of your mind.
You pack your work bag like a hiking bag
While good, modern messenger bags are built to last, and can hold a lot more stuff than just your laptop and some essentials, most people won’t pack them like they are going on a camping trip. However, those who spend most of their day at work, then work a bit more at coffee shops, won’t really have time to get home and resupply.
If your bag contains a day’s worth of snacks, extra clothes, wet wipes, some toothpaste and a toothbrush, and all sorts of little things people usually have in their home, chances are that you are spending too much time away from home. While lugging a heavy messenger bag around can be a decent workout, living like a homeless person will cause you to burn out.
You spend your lunch breaks eating at your desk
Some people don’t even bother going to a coffee shop and working on their laptop or tablet – they just pack some food in their bag, see previous point, and have a quick snack at their work desk. Not only will this make you look like some sort of an office goblin, particularly if you already arrive early and leave late every day, but it will tire you out over time. We all need a few short breaks during the day to stretch out, let our brain rest and recharge our batteries.
If you deny yourself some rest, you will become mentally fatigued and your creativity and focus will suffer, which will lead you to compensate for the lack of productivity by tackling on a few extra hours of work once you get home. At this point, your work habits are becoming extremely unhealthy.
You get nervous when you are away from your work for too long
The ultimate sign of a workaholic is when someone who spends a great deal of time working, and has finished all they were supposed to do that day, starts feeling guilty about having fun instead of getting a few more things done. The reasoning here is that if there is enough time to have drinks and chit chat for 3-4 hours, than there was enough time to finish a whole bunch of extra work. The obvious anxiety and the fact that his or her mind wanders off while others are talking, will leave a poor impression. This can cause a great strain on relationships and friendships.
Although it is sometimes referred to jokingly, or things get exaggerated, being a workaholic is not a very fun thing, nor is it beneficial beyond a certain point. The positive effects that the inhuman amounts of work will have on your career and social status will be far outweighed by the negative effects on your love life, your family life, your psyche and even your physical health. If you identify with the kind of person described in this article, try to put the brakes on and find a way to relax and work on your private life a bit more.