In today’s evolving work-from-home culture, separating the work day from non-work life has become a formidable challenge, especially for those with workaholic tendencies. The physical commute to and from work is diminishing. Those 20-50 minutes in traffic that normally afforded one to mentally prepare for their work day is gone. And similarly the commute home, an opportunity to let go of the day’s stress and refocus on home life, extracurricular activities, or just that a-hole who cut you off on the highway, is no more.
Our daily routine use to offer distinct perimeters around which we could align our thoughts and attention. These traditional boundaries have all but disappeared. Those that work from home typically enjoy a 2 minute commute from bed to computer. They no longer honor any set lunch time, often snacking in front of their keyboard throughout the day instead. And worst yet, they are unable to healthily separate the end of the work day from the rest of their routine.
If you’re finding that you spend too much of your time working, you are not alone. But be careful, the life of a workaholic can lead to unsatisfying results. Perhaps not immediately, but certainly ultimately. For those insisting they love what they do and could happily spend every waking hour working, let me first commend you. Finding and realizing such purpose through your work is a magical and enviable feat. But let me also ask, how is the workaholic routine affecting those around you, your friends, family, and relationships? On what trajectory are those relationships headed if played out over another year or two?
It’s easy to get caught up in your work, but balance is key. To be specific, balance does not mean an equal number of hours clocked between work and non-work life. It also doesn’t mean you have to completely unplug at 5pm sharp. True work / life balance exists when you and those you wish to spend time with most closely, find a consistency in the happiness you share.
Often times people get swept up with becoming a workaholic because of an underlying issue. It’s true that sometimes you’re just getting too much pressure at work to get things done on time, but many people learn that they’re using their work to hide from other problems.
Consider these questions:
- Are you working too much because of financial strain?
- Are you trying to avoid your home life?
- Are you simply working because you have “nothing better planned?”
- Are you using work to avoid other issues you’re facing?
If you’re overworking yourself because of financial reasons, you can only do it for so long. Sooner or later your mental and physical health will begin to suffer. If you need to work hard, or submit long hours, try it with an end date in mind. If that doesn’t work for you, ask yourself how long you can realistically keep it up.
If you’re avoiding problems at home, you should recognize that those problems may never get better if not addressed. Sometimes that means confronting them directly and sometimes it means coming to terms with your own disposition regarding. Problems don’t go away just because you keep avoiding the situation. The only way things will improve is if you take action to resolve them.
If you’re working too much because you “have nothing better to do,” therein lies your problem. Find something better to do! Pick up a hobby, block some exercise time, meet/make friends, etc. etc. Surprisingly, I hear from many people that they overwork themselves simply because they lack any other options. This is not sustainable. Seeking out and creating opportunities for your non-work life is the only way to achieve balance.
True work / life balance exists when you and those you wish to spend time with most closely, find a consistency in the happiness you share.
Balance Out Your Life
In order to wean yourself from your workaholic ways, there are some straight forward tips you can utilize to change your working habits.
Try some of these techniques:
- Make time for yourself. Realize that you and your health are ultimately more important than your work. Schedule time for yourself (add it to your calendar!) and treat that time as more important than any of your other deadlines.
- Unwind at the end of the day. Decide on a firm bedtime and unwind before going to bed. Decide when you’re going to sleep and, approximately 30 minutes to an hour beforehand, engage in a relaxing activity that has nothing to do with your work.
- Exercise. Incorporate a moderate exercise routine into your schedule a few times each week. Exercise will help you relax and release some of your stress from work. It’s great for both your physical and mental health and is one more good way to wean yourself from overworking.
- Take days off. You need days off from your work from time to time. It’s just a fact. If you have a traditional job where you have weekends free, you must spend them away from work. On your days off, avoid even thinking or talking about work. Turn off those notifications and let your mind be free!
- Watch Workaholics. The irreverent workplace comedy series is outlandish enough to distract even the most focused overworker. 🙂
Remember that these changes don’t have to happen all at once, but you can start incorporating them into your life one at a time. Your life simply can’t be all about work. Remember to spend time doing activities that you enjoy besides work including the time with those that you care about most.
Take some time today to implement one or two of these strategies and let the rest of us know in the comments how its helped your workaholism.