Workaholism – Does Your Work Control You?

I’ve heard it often… ‘You’re a workaholic!’ And I won’t contest that I work hard. That’s just part of my nature. The one thing that’s important when you’re driven and work consistently hard toward your goals is to bear in mind that unless you are in control of your work, working patterns and how much you undertake, then you are in fact being controlled by the work, and a slave to it. In this case, it is no longer a conscious choice that you’re making when deciding on how much time and energy to spend on work-related activities.

So… How do you recognize if you’re a slave to your work?  How do you know if your work has more of your attention than is necessary?  How do you know if you’re thinking about work more than you should be doing?  How do you know whether you have the balance that is achievable? Consider the following.

If you find that you have planned activities other than work, but that work is at the ‘back of your mind’ constantly, and you can’t help but check your emails every now and then, then this is a sign that it probably has a pretty strong hold on you.Now, I’m not saying that you can always have balance, and there are times when in order to achieve a goal, almost everything else has to be put on hold, but it’s unnatural that this should always be the case. If you’re constantly thinking that everything has to be put on hold and that there’s no time for anything else… it might just be time to think again.

There’s also a tricky area where those of us that love what we do, see work as bringing such enjoyment that we don’t draw much of our attention away from it, and even when we do, it isn’t long before we are back to work, or something related to it. I used to be incredibly guilty of this, until I realized that even if I loved something, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t be controlled by it. It’s great to love what you do and to be passionate about it, but it’s equally important to have other passions, other areas of interest, and to dedicate sufficient attention to those too.

Think about your typical week.  Are You a Workaholic?

Consider how much time you spend on work related activities, travelling (and for what purposes), family, friends, and on other leisure activities. If an overwhelming amount of time is spent on work, with you repeatedly being drawn toward it even when you’ve set aside time for other activities, if you consistently add to your workload just to keep yourself busy, (i.e. working for the sake of working), and if you feel a level of anxiety when are not working, then these are sure-fire warning signs that you are a slave to work.

It’s normal to sometimes take your work out of the workplace, and out of ‘working hours’ but if  every waking moment (and at times even those when you are asleep), are consumed by something related to your work, you may possibly be a slave to your work, even if you love what you do!

So, how do you overcome this? Firstly, you need to understand that there is more to life than work, and if you are goal-oriented in nature, then start setting goals that are not related to work. Set yourself the goal of completing tasks in less time, and take the decision to spend a certain number of hours each day and every week fully absorbed in something other than work.  Whenever you are about to engage in work in the time that you had set aside for something else, think about whether it can wait, and whether it’s something that someone else who has more available working time can do instead? If the answer is no, then perhaps you need to work on time management strategies and maybe it’s time to consider delegation, or a talk with your boss regarding your workload.

If you have a hard time assessing whether you spend ‘too much’ time on work or not, then ask your friends and family to share their thoughts on this.  They can often provide a fairly honest view that you may not be able to see yourself, particularly when you are immersed in a specific way of thinking and being.  Putting all your time, effort and energy into one thing leads to a lack of balance, that later leads to a sense of dissatisfaction in other areas of life. You wouldn’t want to look back on your life and regret not having grown, accomplished and enjoyed as much of life as there was to, so assess your ‘relationship’ with work, and work towards positive changes.

© 2016 Noleen Mariappen

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